Side Effects Of Radiation Therapy For Breast Cancer
Radiation therapy for breast cancer may cause short-term or long-term side effects. Short term side effects of internal or external beam radiation include:
- Redness or discoloration of the skin
- Breast pain and/or swelling
Other long-term side effects of radiation for breast cancer include:
- Changes to the feel or size of the breast
- Difficulty breastfeeding
- Nerve damage that may lead to weakness, numbness or pain
- Damage to the lymph system resulting in lymphedema
- Bone weakness and fractures
Secondary Cancers After Breast Cancer Treatment
After youâve undergone treatment such as chemotherapy or surgery to remove breast cancer, thereâs always a risk of the same type of cancer cells coming back. But for some people, aftereffects of cancer treatment may also put you at risk of developing a new, unrelated cancer. This is called a second cancer.
One recent study found that women with breast cancer have an 18% increased likelihood of developing a second cancer compared to the general public. Experts say the risk factors can range from genetics to long-term effects of breast cancer treatment.
What Side Effects Occur With Radiation Therapy To The Breast And Chest
Radiation treatment to the chest may cause several changes. You will notice some of these changes yourself, and your treatment team will keep an eye on these and others. For example, you may find swallowing to be difficult or painful. You may develop a cough. Or you may develop a fever, notice a change in the color or amount of mucus when you cough, or feel short of breath. It is important to let your treatment team know right away if you have any of these symptoms. Your doctor also may check your blood counts regularly, especially if the radiation treatment area on your body is large. Just keep in mind that your doctor and nurse will be alert for these changes and will help you deal with them.
Your radiation therapy plan may include implants of radioactive material a week or two after external treatment is completed. You may have some breast tenderness or a feeling of tightness while the implants are in your breast. After they are removed, you are likely to notice some of the same effects that occur with external treatment. If so, follow the advice given above and let your doctor know about any problems that persist.
After 10 to 12 months, no further changes are likely to be caused by the radiation therapy. If you see new changes in breast size, shape, appearance, or texture after this time, report them to your doctor at once.
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What Should I Expect Before Radiation Therapy For Breast Cancer
Most people who have breast cancer treatment receive external beam radiation therapy. The goal is to destroy any remaining cancerous cells while protecting healthy tissue.
Before your first treatment, you will have a planning session . This simulation helps your provider map out the treatment area while sparing normal tissues . This session may take one hour or longer.
During the simulation, your provider:
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How Long Does Radiation Therapy Typically Last
With breast cancer, radiation therapy usually begins about 3 to 4 weeks after breast-conserving therapy or a mastectomy, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
External beam radiation is typically given once a day, 5 days a week, for anywhere from 2 to 10 weeks on an outpatient basis. This means you can go home after the treatment.
Sometimes the schedule for external radiation can differ from the standard schedule. Some examples of this include the following:
- Accelerated fractionation. Treatment is given in larger daily or weekly doses, reducing the duration of the treatment.
- Hyperfractionation. Smaller doses of radiation are given more than once a day.
- Hypofractionation. Larger doses of radiation are given once daily to reduce the number of treatments.
For brachytherapy , treatments are usually given twice a day for 5 days in a row as outpatient procedures. Your specific treatment schedule will depend on what your oncologist has ordered.
A less common treatment option is to leave the radiation in your body for hours or days. With this type of treatment, youll stay in the hospital to protect others from the radiation.
Common side effects of external beam radiation therapy for breast cancer include:
- sunburn-like skin irritation in the treatment area
- dry, itchy, tender skin
- swelling or heaviness in your breast
Skin changes and changes to your breast tissue usually go away within a few months to a year.
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What Is Apbi In Breast Cancer
In select women, some doctors are using accelerated partial breast irradiation 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:
How Long Do Side Effects Last After Radiation Treatment
Early side effects happen during or shortly after treatment. These side effects tend to be short-term, mild, and treatable. Theyre usually gone within a few weeks after treatment ends. The most common early side effects are fatigue and skin changes. Other early side effects usually are related to the area being treated, such as hair loss and mouth problems when radiation treatment is given to this area.
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Coping With Emotional Side Effects
Daily radiation therapy treatments can trigger many different emotions. Fear, anger, or sadness can come up at any point in treatment. Coming to the treatment center every day can be a regular reminder of your diagnosis, fears about cancer coming back, and for many people, the entire cancer experience. In other words, it can feel overwhelming.
Fortunately, there are ways to get the treatment you need and still have some balance in your life. Katharine Winner, MSW, LSW, who works closely with radiation oncologists to provide emotional support to people receiving radiation therapy, says, âItâs important to find a balance between treatment and everyday life, when possible, to help maintain a sense of normalcy. We can help arrange your schedule to accommodate the important things outside of treatment: work, time with family, self-care.
We want to help find the best way to realign your schedule to accommodate radiation. Thereâs a reason why youâre doing radiation: to treat the cancer and prolong your life. Our goal is that treatment doesnât stall your life and that you can still do the things you love and enjoy doing. See how you can reschedule yourself to get a good balance for getting through treatment.
Side Effects From Breast Cancer Treatment
Breast cancer side effects are symptoms or ailments that develop due to the treatments used or as a result of the disease itself.
Long-term side effects begin during treatment and continue after all treatment is stopped.
Late side effects are symptoms that may appear weeks, months or years after treatment ends.
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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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Use Gentle Skin Care Products
Your skin will be especially sensitive while undergoing radiation. Follow your cancer care teams recommendations for which products you can use during this time. In general, its best to avoid applying strongly scented products, which can cause irritation in some people, directly on the treated breast. You can use lotions or perfumes anywhere else on your body.
Look for packaging that says fragrance-free instead of unscented. Although unscented products may not have an obvious scent, they may still contain fragrances to mask the smell of other chemicals.
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What You Should Know About Radiation Therapy For Breast Cancer Treatment
Radiation therapy is a treatment that can be used for many different types of cancer to target cancer cells and minimize tumor growth. Radiation therapy works by using high-energy beams or particles to damage the DNA of cancer cells, which prevents them from dividing, and results in the death of the cell.
Radiation therapy is often used for breast cancer patients to make sure any remaining cancer cells are killed after surgery or if cancer has spread to other areas of the body. Read on to learn more about the types of radiation therapy, when radiation therapy is used to treat breast cancer, what to expect at a radiation oncology appointment, and the side effects of radiation therapy.
Why Do I Feel Fatigued
During radiation therapy, the body uses a lot of energy healing itself. Stress related to your illness, daily trips for treatment, and the effects of radiation on normal cells all may contribute to fatigue. Most people begin to feel tired after a few weeks of radiation therapy. Feelings of weakness or weariness will go away gradually after your treatment is finished, says Dr. Wilson.
You can help yourself during radiation therapy by not trying to do too much. If you feel tired, limit your activities and use your leisure time in a restful way. Do not feel that you have to do all the things you normally do. Try to get more sleep at night, and rest during the day if you can.
If you have been working a full-time job, you may want to continue. Although treatment visits are time consuming, you can ask your doctor’s office or the radiation therapy department to help by scheduling treatments with your workday in mind.
Some patients prefer to take a few weeks off from work while they’re receiving radiation therapy others work a reduced number of hours. You may want to have a frank conversation with your employer about your needs and wishes during this time. You may be able to agree on a part-time schedule, or perhaps you can do some work at home.
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Coping With Side Effects
Let the nurse doctor know when you notice any breast cancer radiation treatment side effects and dont worry too much about anything. You get regular appointments for around five years when the breast cancer treatment ends. You can talk to nurses or doctors during such appointments. However, you wont have to look for another appointment when youve got any side effects or are worried about side effects occurring. At University Cancer Centers, we treat all types of stages of breast cancer with care, and the most researched breast cancer treatment approaches. Our leading-edge hospital care technologies with experienced practitioners ensure that youre under expert care and have a speedy recovery.
Treatment Areas And Possible Side Effects
|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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When Might Radiation Therapy Be Used
Not all men with breast cancer need radiation therapy, but it may be used in several situations:
- After breast-conserving surgery , to help lower the chance that the cancer will come back in the remaining breast tissue or nearby lymph nodes. Radiation is needed less often for men with breast cancer than it is for women, mainly because breast-conserving surgery isnt done as much.
- After a mastectomy, especially if the cancer is larger than 5 cm , attached to the skin, or if cancer is found in the lymph nodes.
- If cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones or brain.
Which areas need radiation depends on whether you had a mastectomy or breast-conserving surgery and whether or not the cancer has reached nearby lymph nodes.
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Talk With Others Who Understand
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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Side Effects Of Breast Cancer Radiation
The side effects of short-course radiation have been found in studies to be the same or milder than traditional longer courses of radiation treatment.
Side effects are caused by receiving multiple doses of radiation on the cells. As a result, many people dont experience side effects until they are a few weeks into their treatment. These are usually in the area of the body that is being treated. Most are temporary.
Skin irritation, swelling in the breast, and fatigue are common short-term side effects. Long-term side effects may develop months or years after radiation therapy. They can include darkening or tanning of the skin, rib fracture, heart complications and swelling of the breast or arm . Another side effect can be radiation pneumonitis. This is a rare pneumonia-like condition caused by radiation-induced lung damage.
One way we are reducing radiation dose to the heart is by using a technique called deep inspiration breath hold. This involves having the patient take a deep breath and holding it for 15 to 20 seconds while they receive their radiation treatment. Taking a deep breath creates a gap between the breast radiation fields and the heart, thereby significantly reducing radiation dose to the heart.
Most patients tolerate radiation therapy well. Many people stay active during their treatment. UPMC Breast Care Center offers many support services to help you manage treatment side effects.
How Radiation Can Affect Breast Implants
Due to its damaging effects on tissues, radiation can make cosmetic procedures more challenging. For instance, radiation can cause asymmetry . Thats because radiation can cause the skin over an implant or tissue flap to become firmer and more rigid, which can also lead to infection and cause the breast that underwent surgery to leak fluids. But, dont worry, there is a fix a plastic surgeon may do a fat injection to help soften and improve the affected breast.
Still, these post-reconstruction risks can be mitigated with the right amount of radiation. Radiation is typically administered in small doses over several weeks, but Dr. Mutter says some studies show the benefits of giving bigger rounds each day and finishing over a shorter time. The thought behind this approach is that it reduces the risk of complications down the line.
Theres a lot for us to still learn about why some patients might develop side effects where others may not, Dr. Mutter says. But both doctors acknowledge that theres still room for improvements to be made for breast cancer survivors.
Were not only worried about cancer recurrence and survival but we also have to prioritize their quality of life and cosmetic outcome, because we dont want women to look at their breasts and always be reminded of this diagnosis and be upset by it, Dr. Kim says. Id rather her forget about it: Thats a success in my book.
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