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 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.
Asked by anonymousLearning About Breast Cancer
The only thing that got worse steadily for me was the fatigue. It builds up. But it got better when I was done. It does linger for a long time after, but doesn't feel anything like it did on chemo. Best wishes to youComment 0
My Oncologist told me that the first experience should be indicative of the rest. My first A/C was the hardest and got easier---minus the fatigue. That definitely addedcup. You should be good!Comment 0
Asked by anonymousLearning About Breast Cancer
Consider yourself cancer free; I do. We don't know if we may get cancer again but worrying about it won't keep it from happening. We have done all we can do at this point. Why not live your life as a victorComment 4
If your pathology has come back clear you can definitely say you are cancer free!! They don't use the word "remission" like they do with a cancer like leukemia, for example, but cancer free is cancer free. I think half the battle is mental, so start thinking and BELIEVING that you are CANCER...
If your pathology has come back clear you can definitely say you are cancer free!! They don't use the word "remission" like they do with a cancer like leukemia, for example, but cancer free is cancer free. I think half the battle is mental, so start thinking and BELIEVING that you are CANCER FREE and you will be!! Good luck!
Asked by anonymousSurvivor since 2010
Asked by anonymousStage 3B Patient
You can use anything but do not use anything I think 3-4 hours before you have radiation. I had radiation first thing in the morning and put creams on before I went to bed then immediately after radiation. I hope this helps and best of luck to you.2 comments 0
I started with clear 100% aloe right after my first treatment and then everyday right after. I also used aquafor (sp?) at night when it got bad. Also used creams they gave me throughout the day. My skin wasn't too bad until the end and I continued with skin care until it healed. Now 4 weeks...
I started with clear 100% aloe right after my first treatment and then everyday right after. I also used aquafor (sp?) at night when it got bad. Also used creams they gave me throughout the day. My skin wasn't too bad until the end and I continued with skin care until it healed. Now 4 weeks later and it looks great! My doctor was surprised it was in such good shape considering how fair skinned I am.
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