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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

  • Janice Baker Profile

    Finished chemo, surgery and radiation. I'm having lots of problems with my expanders on the side I was radiated. Is this normal?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 8 years 1 answer
    • Tricia Hensey Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I'm having a difficult time getting my incision to heal in the area that was radiated. My plastic surgeon tells me that it is not uncommon.

      Comment
  • Kim Stewart Profile

    Done with treatment over a year ago, but still feel like I just had a chemo treatment when I get sick (cold, flu, anything ). Has anyone had the same problem?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 8 years 3 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      What Ali said is correct. One of my friends who went through chemotherapy had lingering effects such as fatigue and "chemo brain". It did finally fade and she is back to normal. Sometimes chemo is just the "gift that keeps on giving." (arrrrgh!) Long after it needs to.
      I have no solution...

      more

      What Ali said is correct. One of my friends who went through chemotherapy had lingering effects such as fatigue and "chemo brain". It did finally fade and she is back to normal. Sometimes chemo is just the "gift that keeps on giving." (arrrrgh!) Long after it needs to.
      I have no solution other than to take the best care of yourself as possible. Eat the best diet you can, exercise, and keep yourself well hydrated. Keep up with your check-ups with your oncologist and the bloodwork. Slowly you will fight your way back. I am just sorry you are experiencing this kind of after effects. Hang in there, Kim.
      Take care, Sharon

      1 comment
    • Ali S Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      While I'm only 5 months outta chemo, I learned that effects can last 1-2 years. Like fatigue--so I'm sure that is impacting you when you're sick. Definitely check in with your doctor though

      Comment
  • Melissa Propp Profile

    I just had my 5th chemo out of 6 four days ago and can't seem to bounce back. I know it gets harder after each one but this is ridiculous. Any suggestions?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 13 answers
    • View all 13 answers
    • Betty Castillo Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      So sorry to hear you are having a hard time. I am a 24 yo from So Cal and I just finished 6 cycles myself, and let me tell you it was the worst time of my life. It is not easy, but you can get through it! Unfortunately, there is nothing else you can do than keep a positive attitude. Sometimes I...

      more

      So sorry to hear you are having a hard time. I am a 24 yo from So Cal and I just finished 6 cycles myself, and let me tell you it was the worst time of my life. It is not easy, but you can get through it! Unfortunately, there is nothing else you can do than keep a positive attitude. Sometimes I look back and can't believe that I have just gone through this. I respect and admire you along with all the other women that go through this treatment. You need to remind yourself that you are extremely strong and that you serve as an inspiration to all the women who are at the beginning of their journey. Love, your BC sister.

      Comment
    • Linda Burke Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      Melissa , this is exactly what happened to me at the exact same time It took me almost 10 days to begin to bounce back and usually in the past it was 4 to 5 days. It makes me nervous for number 6 but I keep telling myself it's my last. My Onc says this is perfectly normal. Please don't be so...

      more

      Melissa , this is exactly what happened to me at the exact same time It took me almost 10 days to begin to bounce back and usually in the past it was 4 to 5 days. It makes me nervous for number 6 but I keep telling myself it's my last. My Onc says this is perfectly normal. Please don't be so hard on yourself and take all the time you need. We are in the fight of our lives and our body needs time to refuel.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    I just finished 4 A/C chemos and start Taxol in 2 weeks does anyone have advice on how to save my nails. I'd appreciate it so much.

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 8 years 10 answers
    • View all 10 answers
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Welcome Jayme. I'm sorry for the reason you're here but you have come to a good place. There are some great women here that are always happy to listen & offer advice whenever possible. We are a sisterhood of strong women!!! I was stage 3 also. I am 49 & was diagnosed in May of last year with...

      more

      Welcome Jayme. I'm sorry for the reason you're here but you have come to a good place. There are some great women here that are always happy to listen & offer advice whenever possible. We are a sisterhood of strong women!!! I was stage 3 also. I am 49 & was diagnosed in May of last year with stage 3c IDC after a routine mammogram & ultrasound missed seeing my lump. I went through A/C then Taxol beginning in May. I then had my bilateral mastectomy (without reconstruction) on Oct 24th. I had 15 lymph nodes removed from my right side. 13 of those were positive for cancer and some of those had broken outside the node. My Onc recommended more chemo. So I had 8 more treatments with Gemzar & Carboplatin. I finished last month, and had a PET scan on Monday. Yesterday I received wonderful news. I am very happy to say that I am now cancer free!!!!! I will still need to undergo 6 1/2 weeks of radiation & later on I'll have reconstruction. But I've made it!! All the treatments i had were totally worth the outcome! I'd do it all over again. I had some difficult days but I tried to keep a positive mindset. Be kind to our body, surround yourself with positive people. You'll get through this! There are a few survivors here that had triple negative breast cancer as well. I'm sure you'll be hearing from them. We'll all be here for you any time you have a question, or just want to vent. Hugs Jayme!

      4 comments
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Hi Jayme, I was also on that paticular chemo "cocktail" during my first go 'round with chemo. My fingernails did not come off but they "flattened" out. It was weird. My toenails became brittle but did not come off. I've heard some women say good things about tea tree oil. Rubbing it in & around...

      more

      Hi Jayme, I was also on that paticular chemo "cocktail" during my first go 'round with chemo. My fingernails did not come off but they "flattened" out. It was weird. My toenails became brittle but did not come off. I've heard some women say good things about tea tree oil. Rubbing it in & around the nails. :)

      Comment

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