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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

  • Barbara Rowan Profile

    What are the side effects of carboplatin?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 8 years 1 answer
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Hi Barbara, I'm on Carboplatin & Gemzar now. The main side effects of Carboplatin are nausea, low blood counts, weakness, & changes in taste. Some women lose their hair with carboplatin, & some don't. When I was on Adriamycin/Cytoxin & Taxol, I lost my hair....but I didn't lose it with the...

      more

      Hi Barbara, I'm on Carboplatin & Gemzar now. The main side effects of Carboplatin are nausea, low blood counts, weakness, & changes in taste. Some women lose their hair with carboplatin, & some don't. When I was on Adriamycin/Cytoxin & Taxol, I lost my hair....but I didn't lose it with the carboplatin mix. Best wishes to you.!!!

      Comment
  • Jonna Diaz Profile

    Well, I had my first chemo treatment on Thursday, 7/12/12,.

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 3A Patient
    over 7 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Jonna Diaz Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 3A Patient

      Because of this we site I was very calm. I know everyone reacts differently but just the communication with others going through similar experiences really helped me a lot.
      I had a few very mild side effects Thursday through Friday afternoon. I wrote them all down along with the times that the...

      more

      Because of this we site I was very calm. I know everyone reacts differently but just the communication with others going through similar experiences really helped me a lot.
      I had a few very mild side effects Thursday through Friday afternoon. I wrote them all down along with the times that the simptims started. When I went in for my neulatsa injection, Friday afternoon, I went over them with the nurse.
      I had light chest pain Thursday afternoon and evening that came and went but it was gone by Friday morning. The nurse said that it was OK. If its was a constant pain then that would be a possible concern but that was not the case with me. The palms of my hands got hot and felt prickly. The nurse stated that the was probably from hormones in the pre-meds before the chemo administration. I also had a very light headache, it is more of a back ground thing. I still have it even today but it is very tolerable.
      I have done, I feel, very well. I have been up and about doing things around the house, example; dishes, laundry, cooking, etc. However, I am taking it easy not doing to much.
      I was told by the doctors, nurses and pharmacist that the patients that get up and move seem to do better than the ones that just sit around and stay stationary. I am taking their advise. I have even tried to do some light walking. However, I am only doing what I feel like doing and no more.
      Another lady that was getting her first treatment at the same time as me wasn't doing as well as me. I saw her when I went in for the neulasta injection, Friday afternoon, and she was having really bad headaches and neausia. So, just keep in mind that everyone is different and do only what you feel you can.
      I just pray that it doesn't get to bad. I am taking it one day at a time. I know that each day will be a new journey.

      2 comments
    • Maria Torstensson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      Hi Jonna! I'm just a few days behind you and will start my chemo treatments on Tuesday. It's been very good for me to read about your concerns and your reaction. I hope the reaction of the treatments want be worse for you. I still hope that I will be strong enough to work the days when I'm...

      more

      Hi Jonna! I'm just a few days behind you and will start my chemo treatments on Tuesday. It's been very good for me to read about your concerns and your reaction. I hope the reaction of the treatments want be worse for you. I still hope that I will be strong enough to work the days when I'm feeling well. I have been told to exercise in order to be strong in front of the treatments and I have really tried to prepare myself. I wish you all the best and take care. //Maria in Sweden

      Comment
  • Sharon Thomas Profile

    If I have cancer, why don't I feel sick?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      If you are asking about breast cancer specifically, you won't feel sick unless it has metastasized (spread) to an organ, bones, brain, etc. Some women, have symptoms with breast cancer like itching, pain, tingling, inverted nipple, discharge from the nipple, some type of sensation in the breast...

      more

      If you are asking about breast cancer specifically, you won't feel sick unless it has metastasized (spread) to an organ, bones, brain, etc. Some women, have symptoms with breast cancer like itching, pain, tingling, inverted nipple, discharge from the nipple, some type of sensation in the breast that is out of the ordinary. Some women have no discomfort or sensation from breast cancer. Once breast cancer has metastasized to an organ, a person may then develop different symptoms that would make them "feel sick." Breast cancer is sneaky! The best outcomes happen when the disease is caught early and treated successfully.

      Comment
    • Wendy Lauber Kilbourne Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2009

      Sharon, Cancer is somewhat a natural process of cell growth in your body. The cancer cells are just cells that don't know when to stop. Our bodies cannot tell the difference between good cells and cancer cells, thus, no symptoms, especially if caught early enough. The longer you have cancer...

      more

      Sharon, Cancer is somewhat a natural process of cell growth in your body. The cancer cells are just cells that don't know when to stop. Our bodies cannot tell the difference between good cells and cancer cells, thus, no symptoms, especially if caught early enough. The longer you have cancer the more you do start to notice symptoms as Sharon Danielson mentions above because the cancer cells start to add up.

      I had no symptoms when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I actually went in for a mammogram because I found a lump on my right breast. Come to find out, it was NOT cancerous. But in the meantime, they found cancer on my LEFT breast, which I never even felt.

      I am sorry to hear about your diagnosis, but wish you the best of luck and remember: Take it ONE step at a time.

      Comment
  • vicky kayley Profile

    Last chemo today yipee can not believe how quickly it has gone, start rads on 4th September. The light is getting near x x

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 7 years 20 answers
    • View all 20 answers
    • vicky kayley Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Thank you all for the lovely comments, I really can not believe how quickly it has gone. Good luck to all still in chemo it will be done before you know it , lots of hugs to all x x

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      YIPPEE!!!! What a great place to be. You made it through the chemo and now on to another step.... closer and closer to the end of your treatment. We are all celebrating with you! Pony-Fur Hugs to you! Sharon

      Comment

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