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Breast Cancer Radiation Side Effect

Treatment Areas And Possible Side Effects

Side Effects of Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer?
Part of the body being treated Possible side effects

Healthy cells that are damaged during radiation treatment usually recover within a few months after treatment is over. But sometimes people may have side effects that do not improve. Other side effects may show up months or years after radiation therapy is over. These are called late effects. Whether you might have late effects, and what they might be, depends on the part of your body that was treated, other cancer treatments you’ve had, genetics, and other factors, such as smoking.Ask your doctor or nurse which late effects you should watch for. See the section on Late Effects to learn more.

  • Reviewed:January 11, 2022

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What Are 5 Harmful Effects Of Radiation

Here are a few common health effects or harmful effects of radiation on the human body.

  • Hair. Loss of hair fall occurs when exposure to radiation is higher than 200 rems.
  • Heart and Brain. Intense exposure to radiation from 1000 to 5000 rems will affect the functioning of the heart.
  • Reproductive Tract.

How To Prepare For Breast Cancer Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy can be physically and emotionally exhausting. It may also cause some uncomfortable side effects, especially on your skin. There are a few things you can do to prepare for breast cancer radiation therapy to help ease unwanted effects and speed your recovery.

Recruit help

Radiation therapy can cause extreme fatigue, so reach out to people who can help you keep up with daily tasks and errands. Family, friends, or neighbors can help watch your children, drop off a meal, or help with daily chores.

Stock up on skincare

Previously, doctors recommended not using topical skincare treatments during radiation therapy due to fears it may increase the skinâs radiation dose. But studies¹ have confirmed this is not the case when using approved creams moderately.

Talk to your oncology team about which lotions theyâd recommend to help soothe your skin after radiation. Apply the cream moderately all over, not just on the areas affected by the radiation.

Rest as much as possible

Both before and after radiation therapy. Itâs likely you wonât have much energy to do much, so inform friends and family when you are too tired to participate in activities. Be gentle with yourself as your body recovers.

Nourish your body

Fill your cupboards and fridge with healthy, nourishing, and easy-to-prepare meals. Try to get extra protein and eat foods high in antioxidants, such as blueberries, strawberries, and kale.

Stay comfortable

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When Should Radiation Be Used To Treat Breast Cancer

Radiation therapy is commonly used post-surgery to help destroy any remaining cancer cells and prevent cancer from returning to the site. Patients require three to eight weeks of recovery time to heal from the surgery before beginning radiation therapy.

The oncology team may also recommend chemotherapy. Patients usually wait to start radiation until the chemotherapy treatments are complete.

Radiation therapy can also treat breast cancer when surgery is not an option. It can also help treat breast cancer that has spread to other areas of the body, such as the lymph nodes.

While radiation therapy is commonly used to treat breast cancer, it may not be suitable for every patient. Your oncology team will work with you to develop a treatment plan based on your specific diagnosis and medical history.

Association Of Antihormonal Therapy With Long

Breast Cancer Radiation Treatment Side Effects

Compared to patients who did not receive endocrine therapy, those who used antihormonal drugs more often reported hot flashes and vaginal dryness , while hair loss was less common . Dry eyes and visual disturbances were experienced by roughly one-third of patients taking these drugs.

Among the subclasses of antihormonal drugs, aromatase inhibitors were associated with a relatively high prevalence of joint pain, whereas loss of libido was prevalent with gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogs .

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These Steps Can Help:

  • Gently cleanse the treated area using lukewarm water and a mild soap. Donât rub your skin. Pat it dry with a soft towel, or use a hair dryer on a cool setting.
  • Donât scratch or rub the treated area. Use only an electric razor if you need to shave there. Donât put on medical tape or bandages.
  • Donât apply any ointment, cream, lotion, or powder to the treated area unless your doctor or nurse has prescribed it. This includes cosmetics, shaving lotions, perfumes, and deodorants.
  • Choose clothes made from natural fibers like cotton rather than tight-fitting clothing or harsh fabrics like wool or corduroy.
  • Avoid extreme heat or cold where youve had radiation no electric heating pads, hot water bottles, or ice packs.
  • Also avoid hot tubs and tanning beds.
  • Stay out of direct sunlight, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., even after youre done with treatment. The sun can intensify skin reactions and lead to severe sunburn. Choose a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat, too.

Questions To Ask The Health Care Team

Consider asking the health care team these questions if radiation therapy is a part of your recommended treatment plan:

  • What physical side effects are likely based on my specific radiation therapy treatment plan? When will they likely begin?

  • How can these side effects be prevented or managed?

  • How can I take care of the affected skin during my treatment period?

  • Who should I tell when a side effect appears or gets worse?

  • Are there specific side effects I should tell the doctor about right away?

  • Who can I talk with if I’m feeling anxious or upset about having this treatment?

  • If I’m having side effects that affect my nutrition, can you recommend an oncology dietitian?

  • What are other ways I can take care of myself during the treatment period?

  • Are there any restrictions on exercising or other physical activity during this treatment?

  • Could this treatment affect my sex life? If so, how and for how long?

  • Could this treatment affect my ability to become pregnant or have a child? If so, should I talk with a fertility specialist before cancer treatment begins?

  • What are the potential long-term effects of this type of radiation therapy?

  • If I’m worried about managing the financial costs of cancer care, who can help me?

  • Will special precautions be needed to protect my family and others from radiation exposure during my treatment period?

  • After radiation therapy is completed, what will my follow-up care plan be?

  • Why is follow-up care important for managing side effects of treatment?

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How Radiation For Breast Cancer Works

Radiation therapy kills cancer cells by destroying the genetic material that causes them to rapidly grow and divide. But Dr. Kim says this is a delicate balance, given that both healthy and cancerous cells are damaged in the process of this treatment. Even though normal cells can repair much of the damage caused by radiation, the goal is to destroy as few healthy cells and cause as little harm as possible.

Thankfully, breast cancer happens to be very sensitive to radiation, so not much is needed to control the disease or stop it in its tracks. Radiation is very effective at treating cancer cells, which typically divide quicker, whereas normal tissues are affected to a much lesser degree, says Dr. Mutter. So were able to give a relatively modest dose of radiation after surgery to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence.

Talk With Others Who Understand

Side Effects of Radiation Therapy After Breast Cancer

MyBCTeam is the social network for people with breast cancer and their loved ones. On MyBCTeam, more than 58,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with breast cancer.

Have you undergone radiation therapy for breast cancer? Do you have any tips for managing its side effects? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

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Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation

After whole breast radiation or even after surgery alone, most breast cancers tend to come back very close to the area where the tumor was removed . For this reason, some doctors are using accelerated partial breast irradiation in selected women to give larger doses over a shorter time to only one part of the breast compared to the entire breast . Since more research is needed to know if these newer methods will have the same long-term results as standard radiation, not all doctors use them. There are several different types of accelerated partial breast irradiation:

  • Intraoperative radiation therapy : In this approach, a single large dose of radiation is given to the area where the tumor was removed in the operating room right after BCS . IORT requires special equipment and is not widely available.
  • 3D-conformal radiotherapy : In this technique, the radiation is given with special machines so that it is better aimed at the tumor bed. This spares more of the surrounding normal breast tissue. Treatments are given twice a day for 5 days or daily for 2 weeks.
  • Intensity-modulated radiotherapy : IMRT is like 3D-CRT, but it also changes the strength of some of the beams in certain areas. This gets stronger doses to certain parts of the tumor bed and helps lessen damage to nearby normal body tissues.
  • Brachytherapy: See brachytherapy below.

What Are The Different Kinds Of Radiation Therapy

Most 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.

There are two main kinds of radiation therapy that may be considered, and some people have both.

  • External Beam Breast Cancer Radiation
  • Internal Breast Cancer Radiation

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.

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How Do I Prepare For My Treatments

Before your first radiation treatment, you will have a simulation appointment. This appointment will last approximately one to two hours. During this appointment, the doctor will identify the exact fields on your body to treat with radiation. This involves lying on a table while the radiation therapist marks the field with small dots made with permanent ink. Each dot is similar to a very small tattoo. You will not receive any radiation treatment during this appointment.

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Newer and Unconventional Treatment Methods May Better Manage Breast ...

Radiation therapy sideeffects: 5 tips to cope. BY Pamela J. Schlembach, M.D. Like many types of cancer treatment, radiation therapy can cause sideeffects and have a profound impact on patients. Many of my patients suffer from lack of sleep, malnutrition, fatigue and skin irritation, and some arent quite sure how to cope.

SideEffects of Local Radiation Therapy for BreastCancer. The sideeffects of irradiation of the breast, chest wall, and regional lymph nodes are listed in Table 5. As with chemotherapy, much of.

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While these short-term side effects prove how high-risk abortion can be, it can also lead to more devastating long-term dangers of abortion such as: Cancer. Abortion or pregnancies not carried to completion increase the risk of developing breast cancer due. External beam radiation is the most common kind of radiation treatment for breast cancer. Itâs a painless treatment, like getting an X-ray. A doctor will place a machine on the outside of your body and aim the radiation beams at the area of the cancer. Short-term side effects of external radiation include: fatigue red, itchy, dry or.

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Pain And Skin Changes

During and just after treatment, your treated breast may be sore. Talk with your health care provider about using mild pain relievers such as ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen to ease breast tenderness.

The treated breast may also be rough to the touch, red , swollen and itchy. Sometimes the skin may peel, as if sunburned. Your health care provider may suggest special creams to ease this discomfort.

Sometimes the skin peels further and the area becomes tender and sensitive. Its most common in the skin folds and the underside of the breast. If this occurs, let your radiation team know. They can give you creams and pads to make the area more comfortable until it heals.

Fatigue is common during radiation therapy and may last for several weeks after treatment ends.

Fatigue is mainly a short-term problem, but for some, it can persist .

You may feel like you dont have any energy and may feel tired all of the time. Resting may not help.

Regular exercise, even just walking for 20 minutes every day, may help reduce fatigue . Getting a good nights sleep is also important.

Talk with your health care provider if you are fatigued or have insomnia .

Learn more about fatigue and insomnia.

Heart And Lung Problems

Because of the location of your heart and lungs in relation to your breasts, radiation has the potential to cause heart and lung problems down the road though this is far less common than the other side effects weve covered, as radiation has improved significantly over the years.

Radiation can harm your heart by causing your arteries to harden or your heartbeat to become irregular, or it can inflict valve damage.

If your lungs are affected, this can present as chest pain, shortness of breath, or a cough or you may show no symptoms at all and the lung inflammation may only be caught on an x-ray. Symptoms typically dissipate on their own, but sometimes patients are given medications to ease the inflammation. If left untreated, the inflammation can turn ugly and cause pulmonary fibrosis, which is a permanent scarring of the lungs that can affect breath capacity.

However, todays techniques have advanced to the point where the heart and lungs are typically not affected by radiation treatment.

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What Is The Recovery Process After Radiation Therapy For Breast Cancer

Most people find that it takes a few weeks after their radiation therapy to start feeling normal again. This is the amount of time it takes for your body to process the radiation.

Consult your oncology team if side effects like fatigue and skin irritation are not dissipating within a few weeks. They may have suggestions that can help speed up your recovery. These symptoms may also be a sign that further treatment is required.

Radiotherapy To Part Of The Breast

Proton therapy minimizes radiation side-effects in breast cancer patients – New Day Northwest

Less commonly, some women are given radiotherapy to part of the breast instead of the whole breast. There are different ways of doing this.

Your cancer doctor or specialist nurse will explain if any of the following treatments are options for you. They will tell you what the possible side effects are and any risks involved.

It is important to have information about all your treatment options. They can explain how these treatments compare with external radiotherapy.

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Causes And Risk Factors

Radiation therapy works by damaging DNA in cells. This damage isnt isolated to cancer cells, though normal cells can be damaged as well. While radiation therapy has improved significantly such that less damage occurs to healthy cells than in the past, some healthy tissues are inevitably exposed.

Several variables can increase or decrease your risk of developing long-term side effects of radiotherapy. Some of these are:

  • Your age at the time of radiation
  • The dose of radiation you receive
  • The number of treatment sessions
  • The type of cancer treated
  • The area of the body that receives radiation
  • Other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy
  • Other health conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes

Side Effects Of Radiation For Breast Cancer

Radiation therapy is a common part of breast cancer treatment. It may be used alone, or in conjunction with other therapies. As with any kind of medical procedure, there can be side effects. Side effects can vary, depending on the kind of radiation therapy you have and your individual response to it.

Knowing what to expect, and potential side effects, can help you prepare for your treatment.

Skin changes are some of the main side effects of external radiation. These changes occur in the area being treated by the radiation. Its similar to a sunburn, and can include:

  • redness and itching
  • darkening of the skin

These changes happen gradually over the course of treatment, and in some people it can last for years after treatment. Some people also develop spider veins in certain areas months to years after treatment.

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What Emotional Responses Might I Expect

You may or may not experience anxiety or fear when you begin your treatment. Most people tell us that their concerns lessen as they adapt to the new environment and treatment.

Please speak to the staff if you feel that you need either emotional or practical support. There is a social worker on staff in the Radiation Oncology department. This may be a time when you think again about support groups or one-to-one consultation for the feelings that arise or to support your coping. For information about support services, please call the Breast Care Center at 353-7070.


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