Radiation therapy for breast cancer

 

There are a number of treatments available for breast cancer patients and this includes radiation therapy. Not everyone is familiar with this though.

What is Radiation Therapy?

Radiation TherapyRadiation therapy is treatment with high-energy rays or particles that destroy cancer cells. Radiation to the breast is often given after breast-conserving surgery to help lower the chance that the cancer will come back in the breast or nearby lymph nodes. Radiation may also be recommended after mastectomy in patients either with a cancer larger than 5 cm, or when cancer is found in the lymph nodes.

Radiation is also used to treat cancer that has spread to other areas, for example to the bones or brain.

Radiation therapy can be given in 2 main ways.

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New Approaches in Radiation Therapy

Radiation TherapyMemorial Sloan-Kettering offers several newer forms of radiation therapy for breast cancer. These include:

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
In IMRT, a special computer program is used to deliver a uniform, or homogenous, dose of radiation to the breast. This technology prevents the emergence of so-called hot spots (areas that receive more radiation than others due to the shape of the breast) and minimizes acute and late reactions. In special situations, IMRT is also used to limit the radiation dose to organs close to the breast or lymph nodes being treated.

Radiation delivered in the prone position
Some patients are able to lie on their stomachs instead of their backs, and radiation is directed to the affected breast as it hangs through an opening in a special table. This approach reduces radiation exposure to nearby vital organs such as the heart and lungs. It has been found to be especially useful for women with large breasts
.”

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Does it have side effects and what should we do about them?

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 (which may range from mild to intense)
Red, dry, tender, or itchy skin
Breast heaviness
Discoloration, redness, or a bruised appearance
General fatigue

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Skin Care Tips

Radiation TherapyHaving a radiation therapy has different side effects which includes skin sensitivity. Here are a few things you might need to remember:

Here are a few things you can do to make the skin less sensitive during radiation treatment and to help it return to normal after radiation treatment is over.

  • Prevent irritation before and after daily treatments
  • Wear loose-fitting shirts, preferably cotton.
  • Use warm rather than hot water while showering.
  • Try to not let shower water fall directly on your breast.
  • Avoid harsh soaps that have a lot of fragrance; instead use fragrance-free soaps with moisturizers (such as Dove).
  • To help prevent redness and skin irritation, avoid having skin-on-skin contact.
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    Dr. Chris Charlton

    Dr. Chris Charlton

    Dr. Chris was born in Europe but has lived in the US for many years. He attended college both in Europe and the US and completed medical school at the University of Texas. Residency and fellowship in oncology was completed at Baylor. Read More...
    Dr. Chris Charlton

    Dr. Chris Charlton

    Dr. Chris Charlton

    Dr. Chris Charlton

    Dr. Chris Charlton

    Dr. Chris Charlton

    Dr. Chris Charlton

    Dr. Chris Charlton