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Treatment

 
Treatment

Chapter: 6 - Treatment

Subchapter: 7 - Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy, which commonly follows surgery, uses x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. People with Stage 0 (DCIS ) or Stage 1 invasive cancer and higher, who have had a lumpectomy, can expect radiation therapy to be a part of their treatment regimen.

Radiation therapy is administered by a radiation oncologist at a radiation center, and usually begins three to four weeks after surgery. The radiation is used to destroy undetectable cancer cells and reduce the risk of cancer recurring in the affected breast.

Let’s discuss adjuvant radiation therapies in further detail. Keep in mind that the course of treatment you decide is something you should discuss with your radiation oncologist in order to ensure that it is as effective as possible.

External Beam Radiation
External beam radiation (also known as traditional or whole breast radiation therapy) uses external beam radiation, like that of a regular x-ray, but the beam is highly focused and targets the cancerous area for two to three minutes. This form of treatment usually involves multiple appointments in an outpatient radiation center — as many as five days a week for five or six weeks. Certain situations may require a slightly higher dose of radiation over a shorter course of treatment, usually three to four weeks.

Internal Radiation
Internal radiation is another form of partial breast radiation. During the treatment, the doctor inserts a radioactive liquid with needles, wires, or a catheter in order to target the area nearest the cancer and kill any possible remaining cancer cells.

Radiation Side Effects
Radiation therapy can have side effects, and these vary from person to person. The most common side-effects are sunburn-type skin irritation of the targeted area, breast heaviness and discoloration, and fatigue. If you experience side effects, you should discuss them with your doctor, who may be able to suggest other more comfortable treatments.

You need to be aware that more intense treatment methods will tax your body. During radiation therapy, it is essential to take care of yourself by getting extra rest and making good nutrition a priority.

Related Questions

  • holly jones Profile

    Anyone have dizziness/lightheaded ness while on herceptin?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 2 answers
    • Sue Rice Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      I get dizzy & lightheaded also my eyesight has deteriated I get sores in my nose and I am always tired, lately I have been falling over a lot as well which I am told is due to tiredness which makes the dizziness worse. I have been on Herceptin every 3 weeks for the past 3 years and no signs of...

      more

      I get dizzy & lightheaded also my eyesight has deteriated I get sores in my nose and I am always tired, lately I have been falling over a lot as well which I am told is due to tiredness which makes the dizziness worse. I have been on Herceptin every 3 weeks for the past 3 years and no signs of anything changing. I have heard most symptoms go away you finish having Herceptin. Good luck!

      Comment
    • Erin Timlin Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      No dizziness and lightheadedness but I have had slightly blurred vision which I believe is a side effect. Also, a runny nose.

      Comment
  • Tamara Thom Profile

    Immediately after lumpectomy with sentinel node biopsy I had uncontrollable sugar cravings. Lasted about four days. Has anyone experienced this?

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 1 Patient
    almost 6 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Mimi Carroll Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      It is amazing how the drugs really do change what we want to eat.... Taxol for the first time I was fine eating sour foods like plain yogurt and green apples. With A/C I ate nothing for a week and then wanted fats/salt/carbs-- Lasagna, and ice cream! Now that I am tired all the time I have...

      more

      It is amazing how the drugs really do change what we want to eat.... Taxol for the first time I was fine eating sour foods like plain yogurt and green apples. With A/C I ate nothing for a week and then wanted fats/salt/carbs-- Lasagna, and ice cream! Now that I am tired all the time I have to watch Craving sugar to get energy!

      Comment
    • Tamara Thom Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      I hadn't thought of that! I'm embarrassed to admit how many donuts I ate at one sitting, I'm supposed to be cutting DOWN on sugar! But if it was an after effect of anestethia it won't continue. And I'll be aware in case I react to radiation treatment that way, I can plan ahead with something...

      more

      I hadn't thought of that! I'm embarrassed to admit how many donuts I ate at one sitting, I'm supposed to be cutting DOWN on sugar! But if it was an after effect of anestethia it won't continue. And I'll be aware in case I react to radiation treatment that way, I can plan ahead with something sweet but not refined sugar.

      1 comment
  • Connie Logan Profile

    I am only on my first treatment of Taxotere, cytoxin. And neulasta. My next treatment is Monday but in the last few weeks the backs of my hands feel like I have a sunburn on the back and itch and burn. Anybody else have this?

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 2B Patient
    over 7 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Connie Logan Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2B Patient

      Thanks for the input and the suggestion about the Benadryl is great. Asked doctor if I could take it and he said yes

      Comment
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I had that and it turned into a rash. Doc thinks it is a reaction to the steroids.

      Comment
  • Christina Archambault Profile

    Finished round 6 of chemo!! I find out Monday when I start radiation! I feel like I am over the hard part, I am so happy chemo is done!! Did anyone stay at a lodge when they did radiation? What do you suggest I bring??

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 2B Patient
    over 7 years 2 answers
    • Alison Johnson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2009

      Christina, I had 5 days of intensive radiation, I stayed at a hotel during that time. and walked over to the radiation center twice a day. I felt pretty punk during radiation, sore and grumpy. Here's what I was grateful to have:
      - a big bowl of fresh fruit. I was nauseated and did not want to go...

      more

      Christina, I had 5 days of intensive radiation, I stayed at a hotel during that time. and walked over to the radiation center twice a day. I felt pretty punk during radiation, sore and grumpy. Here's what I was grateful to have:
      - a big bowl of fresh fruit. I was nauseated and did not want to go out for meals, the fruit was just right.
      - a big bottle of ginger ale, it really helped with the nausea
      - Something simple to read, I just couldn't handle anything complex
      - my family arranged for someone to get me in my room and walk over to each appointment, and for someone to spend every night with me. Later I realized they were afraid I would skip appointments! Not one person said I was grumpy, but I know I was.

      That was 3 years ago. Congrad on finishing up chemo, that has to feel like real progress.

      Comment
    • Cheryl Wornham Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Congratulations on finishing your chemotherapy I'm happy for you
      About the radiation I went to a hospital for my treatments sorry I can't shed more light to your question maybe someone else can
      Good luck to ya big hugs
      Cheryl

      Comment

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