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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

  • Nancy MacMullen Profile

    I am currently undergoing radiation. I have a cough and get very short of breath, I also have an upset stomach. Does anyone else have those symptoms?

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 1 Patient
    over 6 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Anytime you have questions about something that is going on during treatment, it is perfectly fine to call your doctor or speak to one of the assistants. So many times people don't want to bother the doctor, or office when we are going to them for treatments. They will want to know when the...

      more

      Anytime you have questions about something that is going on during treatment, it is perfectly fine to call your doctor or speak to one of the assistants. So many times people don't want to bother the doctor, or office when we are going to them for treatments. They will want to know when the symptoms started, have they become worse, so be as specific as you can. You will probably have to go in to see the doctor. I didn't have any radiation treatment for my breast cancer so I can't shed any light on what you are experiencing. I'd just call the doctor's office so you can get checked out. Hang in there and tell us how you are doing.

      Comment
    • Nancy MacMullen Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      I did speak to both the onc nurse and the RO they both dismissed my sypthoms as not radiation induced. So I went to a PCP who has put me on an antibiotic for pneumonia. After the weekend off from treatment and 3 days of meds I feel somewhat better, but today will tell as I go back to the rads....

      more

      I did speak to both the onc nurse and the RO they both dismissed my sypthoms as not radiation induced. So I went to a PCP who has put me on an antibiotic for pneumonia. After the weekend off from treatment and 3 days of meds I feel somewhat better, but today will tell as I go back to the rads. Thanks so much for answering.

      1 comment
  • Kay Brouse Profile

    *UGH* I'm ready to duct tape my head! Does anyone have any tips for removing hair quickly when it starts coming out? It's falling out easily, but I have to lightly tug on it to get it to come out and it's getting all over everything.

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 2B Patient
    almost 6 years 10 answers
    • View all 10 answers
    • Susie Que Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2B Patient

      I found that once my head was shaved. It would fall out more easily in the shower with a wash cloth or using my hands . I also wore a sleep cap until it fell out. I hope this helps.

      Comment
    • Lisa Taylor Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      I cut my dreads because they were pulling on my scalp and hurting my head! I mine while I was home alone just in case I freaked out. Did want them to see until it was done! When my husband shaved off the stub! We all except changes differently, but ou hair doesn't define the beautiful sisters...

      more

      I cut my dreads because they were pulling on my scalp and hurting my head! I mine while I was home alone just in case I freaked out. Did want them to see until it was done! When my husband shaved off the stub! We all except changes differently, but ou hair doesn't define the beautiful sisters we are! God bless you!

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    Is there such a thing as post tramatic syndrome after breast cancer treatment? If there is I got broadsided with it today.Wasn"t prepared for it!!

    Asked by anonymous

    Survivor since 2012
    about 6 years 12 answers
    • View all 12 answers
    • Anne Marie jacintho Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2003

      Morning Jo. I think with anything traumatic in your life it is possible to have a bout with post traumatic stress syndrome And dealing with breast cancer is very traumatic we stay strong we stay positive we keep on moving but yet some days it all seems so overwhelming. What we have been...

      more

      Morning Jo. I think with anything traumatic in your life it is possible to have a bout with post traumatic stress syndrome And dealing with breast cancer is very traumatic we stay strong we stay positive we keep on moving but yet some days it all seems so overwhelming. What we have been through and it just never seems to end. Those small mighty pills throw us for a loop. Your journey has been an intense journey I cannot even imagine how it was. Mine was a piece of cake kind of took the easy way out with the multiple mastectomies. So you are definitely entitled to days of being overwhelmed I certainly have those days have myself a little cry then tell myself it's not that bad start to count my blessings and try my best to get through the day. I'll call a friend we'll commiserate together and laugh. You are not alone. Sending you a big big gentle bear hug.

      5 comments
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      I completely agree... it is the most traumatic event most of us have ever faced. One day you are sailing along and next you are hit with a diagnosis of breast cancer and mentally facing your own mortality. It is sobering, and a pretty tough journey. I am on an anti-depressant or I would be...

      more

      I completely agree... it is the most traumatic event most of us have ever faced. One day you are sailing along and next you are hit with a diagnosis of breast cancer and mentally facing your own mortality. It is sobering, and a pretty tough journey. I am on an anti-depressant or I would be sitting in the corner drooling and talking to myself. I feel... "normal" and can think rationally. I think we all have up and down days. I find much support with everyone on this site because we are pretty much in the same boat. Here we can find total understanding and acceptance. If you haven't been where we have, it is difficult to have any idea of what your body and mind goes through. We are all on this battlefield together, my sisters. Love and understanding to all. Sharon

      3 comments
  • Alglen Thelex Garay Profile

    Has anyone experienced coughing (w/o phlegm), itchy throat and changed voice (husky) after chemo? What is your advise about it?

    Asked by anonymous

    Family Member or Loved One
    over 6 years 3 answers
    • Erin Timlin Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      I had a few colds throughout the 3 months but a few weeks after my last treatment I completely lost my voice! Worst case of laryngitis...but no other cold symptoms. It was strange but I heard it was common so I just let it run its course.

      Comment
    • cindy stephenson Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      yes, i have been experiencing this. The week after my chemo i had a sore throat, hoarseness, runny nose and cough. Actually, i am still coughing. I am on Taxotere, Carboplatin, and Herceptin. I just called the oncologist to see about something to do for this cough. I have coughed so hard i...

      more

      yes, i have been experiencing this. The week after my chemo i had a sore throat, hoarseness, runny nose and cough. Actually, i am still coughing. I am on Taxotere, Carboplatin, and Herceptin. I just called the oncologist to see about something to do for this cough. I have coughed so hard i think i injured my right lung. i also have allergies and asthma which makes things even more complicated.

      Comment

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