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How Bad Is Radiation For Breast Cancer

If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Abdomen

Side Effects of Radiation Therapy After Breast Cancer

If you are getting radiation to your stomach or some part of the abdomen , you may have side effects such as:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

Eating or avoiding certain foods can help with some of these problems, so diet planning is an important part of radiation treatment of the stomach or abdomen. Ask your cancer care team about what you can expect, and what medicines you should take to help relieve these problems. Check with your cancer care team about any home remedies or over-the-counter drugs youre thinking about using.

These problems should get better when treatment is over.

Managing nausea

Some people feel queasy for a few hours right after radiation therapy. If you have this problem, try not eating for a couple of hours before and after your treatment. You may handle the treatment better on an empty stomach. If the problem doesnt go away, ask your cancer care team about medicines to help prevent and treat nausea. Be sure to take the medicine exactly as you are told to do.

If you notice nausea before your treatment, try eating a bland snack, like toast or crackers, and try to relax as much as possible. See Nausea and Vomiting to get tips to help an upset stomach and learn more about how to manage these side effects.

Managing diarrhea

Problems Moving Your Arm And Shoulder

Radiotherapy might make it harder to move your arm and shoulder. This can affect your activities and work. It usually improves when the treatment finishes. Your nurse or physiotherapist can give you exercises to help.

Its important to continue the arm exercise you were shown after your surgery. This will make it easier for you to lift your arm to the correct position during radiotherapy. It can also help stop your arm and shoulder from becoming stiff.

What Are The Types Of Radiation Therapy

External radiation therapy
External radiation therapy is given from a special machine . The patient never becomes radioactive.
Internal radiation therapy
Internal radiation therapy is when the source of radiation is placed inside the body near the cancer cells. The length of time the implant is in place depends upon the type of implant received.

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Boost Radiation For Early Breast Cancer Improves Local Control But Not Survival

Breast-conserving surgery is generally followed by radiation therapy. In addition to receiving radiation therapy to the entire breast, women with early breast cancer often receive an additional boost of radiation to the area of the cancer with the goal of reducing the risk of recurrence. Boost radiation among women with stage I or stage II breast cancer reduces the risk of cancer recurrence within the breast but does not affect 10-year survival.6

To evaluate the benefits and side effects of boost radiation, researchers affiliated with the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer conducted a study among 5,318 women with early stage breast cancer.

After breast-conserving surgery, all patients received radiation to the entire breast and half the patients also received a 16 Gy radiation “boost” to the area of the cancer.

  • The boost did not improve long term survival ten-year survival was 82% for those that received boost radiation and those group that did not.
  • The ten-year risk of cancer recurrence within the breast was 6.2% in patients who received boost radiation and 10.2% in patients who did not receive boost radiation.
  • Young women experienced the greatest reduction in recurrence risk following boost radiation.
  • Severe fibrosis occurred in 4.4% of patients treated with boost radiation, compared with only 1.6% of patients who did not receive boost radiation.

Side Effects Of Radiation For Breast Cancer

Breast cancer patients using their breath to save their hearts

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.

  • 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.

9 out of 10 people experiencing it during cancer treatment. It doesnt improve with rest, and can impact concentration, daily activities, and speech.

Tell your doctor about your fatigue. Theres no one treatment for it, but they might be able to provide specific ways to help.

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Pain In The Breast Or Chest Area

You may have aches, twinges or sharp pains in the breast or chest area.

Although these are usually mild, they can continue for months or even years, but they usually become milder and less frequent over time.

You may also have stiffness and discomfort around the shoulder and breast or chest area during and after treatment.

Continuing to do arm and shoulder exercises during radiotherapy and for several months afterwards may help minimise or prevent stiffness or discomfort.

Is Radiation Necessary For All Patients With Node Negative Disease

Researchers are evaluating whether eliminating radiation in several groups of women is ongoing but inconclusive at this time. For example doctors are trying to determine if women over 70 years who have hormone receptor-positive, HER2-positive disease or those with luminal A breast cancer can avoid radiation altogether.

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If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Brain

People with brain tumors often get stereotactic radiosurgery if the cancer is in only one or a few sites in the brain. Side effects depend on where the radiation is aimed. Some side effects might show up quickly, but others might not show up until 1 to 2 years after treatment. Talk with your radiation oncologist about what to watch for and when to call your doctor.

If the cancer is in many areas, sometimes the whole brain is treated with radiation. The side effects of whole brain radiation therapy may not be noticeable until a few weeks after treatment begins.

Radiation to the brain can cause these short-term side effects:

  • Headaches
  • Trouble with memory and speech
  • Seizures

Some of these side effects can happen because radiation has caused the brain to swell. Medicines are usually given to prevent brain swelling, but its important to let your cancer care team know about headaches or any other symptoms. Treatment can affect each person differently, and you may not have these particular side effects.

Radiation to the brain can also have side effects that show up later usually from 6 months to many years after treatment ends. These delayed effects can include serious problems such as memory loss, stroke-like symptoms, and poor brain function. You may also have an increased risk of having another tumor in the area, although this is not common.

Talk with your cancer care team about what to expect from your specific treatment plan.

Physical Emotional And Social Effects Of Cancer

Breast Cancer Radiation Round 16-20: Good Haircut, Bad Tan.

In general, cancer and its treatment cause physical symptoms and side effects, as well as emotional, social, and financial effects. Managing all of these effects is called palliative care or supportive care. It is an important part of your care that is included along with treatments intended to slow, stop, or eliminate the cancer.

Palliative care focuses on improving how you feel during treatment by managing symptoms and supporting patients and their families with other, non-medical needs. Any person, regardless of age or type and stage of cancer, may receive this type of care. And it often works best when it is started right after a cancer diagnosis. People who receive palliative care along with treatment for the cancer often have less severe symptoms, better quality of life, and report that they are more satisfied with treatment.

Palliative treatments vary widely and often include medication, nutritional changes, relaxation techniques, emotional and spiritual support, and other therapies. You may also receive palliative treatments similar to those meant to get rid of the cancer, such as chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation therapy.

  • Music therapy, meditation, stress management, and yoga for reducing anxiety and stress.

  • Meditation, relaxation, yoga, massage, and music therapy for depression and to improve other mood problems.

  • Meditation and yoga to improve general quality of life.

  • Acupressure and acupuncture to help with nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy.

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Types Of Radiation Therapy

  • External beam radiation is most commonly used to treat breast cancer. A machine outside your body aims a beam of radiation on the area affected by the disease.
  • Brachytherapy delivers radiation to the cancer through something implanted in your body.
  • Proton therapy sends highly targeted radiation just to your breast tissue and not into your heart or lungs.

Late Complications Of Radiation Therapy For Breast Cancer: Evolution In Techniques And Risk Over Time

Zachary Brownlee1, Rashi Garg1, Matthew Listo1, Peter Zavitsanos1, David E. Wazer1,2, Kathryn E. Huber1

1Department of Radiation Oncology, Tufts Medical Center and Tufts University School of Medicine , Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University School of Medicine , , USA

Contributions: Conception and design: DE Wazer, KE Huber Administrative support: KE Huber Provision of study materials or patients: None Collection and assembly of data: None Data analysis and interpretation: None Manuscript writing: All authors Final approval of manuscript: All authors.

Correspondence to:

Abstract: Radiation therapy in combination with surgery, chemotherapy, and endocrine therapy as indicated, has led to excellent local and distant control of early stage breast cancers. With the majority of these patients surviving long term, mitigating the probability and severity of late toxicities is vital. Radiation to the breast, with or without additional fields for nodal coverage, has the potential to negatively impact long term cosmetic outcome of the treated breast as well as cause rare, but severe, complications due to incidental dosage to the heart, lungs and contralateral breast. The long-term clinical side-effects of breast radiation have been studied extensively. This review aims to discuss the risk of developing late complications following breast radiation and how modern techniques can be used to diminish these risks.

Keywords: Radiation breast cancer late toxicity

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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.

How Can I Handle Fatigue

Breast Cancer Radiation Therapy Burns

The fatigue you feel from cancer and radiation therapy is different from other times you may have felt tired. Itâs an exhaustion that doesnât get better with rest and can keep you from doing the things you normally do, like going to work or spending time with family and friends. It also can seem different from day to day, which makes it hard to plan around it. It can even change how well you’re able to follow your cancer treatment plan.

Let your doctor know if youâre struggling with fatigue. They might be able to help. There are also things you can do to feel better:

  • Take care of your health. Be sure you’re taking your medications the way you’re supposed to. Get plenty of rest, be as active as you can, and eat the right foods.
  • Work with a counselor or take a class at your cancer treatment center to learn ways to conserve energy, reduce stress, and keep yourself from focusing on the fatigue.
  • Save your energy for the activities that are most important to you. Tackle them first when youâre feeling up to it.
  • Keep a balance between rest and activities. Too much bed rest can make you more tired. But don’t over-schedule your days without giving yourself breaks.
  • Ask for help from family and friends. If fatigue is interfering with your job, talk with your boss or HR department and ask about taking some time off from work or making adjustments in your schedule.

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Chemotherapy And Radiation: Why Should I Stop Coloring My Hair During Treatment

Isabel Calleros explains why you should stop coloring your hair during chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Isabel Calleros:During the time that you are going through radiation or chemotherapy its recommended, strongly recommended that you dont add more chemicals to your body, okay?

Now theres no proven fact that bleaching the hair penetrates into the skin or dyes penetrate into the skin, but why take the risk?

Dyes usually contain aniline derivative tints which are strong chemical. The pH of those chemicals are a lot stronger than what our natural skin and hair are accustomed to, and unfortunately we are going to lose some of our hair or all of our hair, so why add to the problem?

Radiation Reduces Mortality At 15 Years In Early Breast Cancer

Researchers affiliated with the Early Breast Cancer Trialistsâ Collaborative Group evaluated breast-conserving therapy with or without radiation therapy to mastectomy with or without radiation therapy in a large analyses and found that radiation resulted in a significant difference in local regional recurrences and 15-year mortality.

  • Radiation in patients treated with breast-conserving therapy reduced local regional recurrences by 19%.
  • 15-year mortality from breast cancer was reduced from nearly 36% to 30% in patients treated with radiation therapy following breast-conserving therapy compared to those not treated with radiation therapy.
  • 15-year mortality from breast cancer was reduced from 60% to 54% in patients who received radiation therapy following a mastectomy compared to those treated with a mastectomy alone.

The researchers concluded that a reduction in the risk of local regional recurrences with the use of radiation therapy significantly reduces the long-term risk of death caused by early breast cancer.

Radiation therapy is associated with side effects such as fatigue, skin burns, and cosmetic changes. Additionally, patients often need to take time off from work in order to attend radiation treatment sessions. Therefore, clinical studies have been performed to evaluate shorter radiation treatment schedules with the goal of maintaining the highest survival benefit for patients.

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What To Expect With External Beam Radiation

If you have external beam radiation, youll meet with your radiation oncologist and a nurse before starting treatment. They will walk you through what to expect with external beam radiation, and the risks and benefits of this treatment.

At this time, youll likely have a physical exam and go over your medical history.

Additionally, the radiation oncologist and a radiation therapist will take scans of your treatment area. This will help define the boundaries of the affected area so they know where to aim the radiation beams.

They will put marks on your skin to mark the area. You will need the marks throughout the course of your treatment. The marks will be used to line up your body, so the radiation beams target the exact area that needs to be treated.

Sometimes a body mold will be made to immobilize you during the treatment and to help keep your body still.

Each treatment will only last a few minutes. The session setup will take longer than the actual treatment. You wont feel anything when the machine is turned on for the treatment. Its a painless procedure.

Technical Advancements For Late Complication Risk Reduction

University of Kansas Health System adds new radiation treatment for breast cancer patients

Several radiation techniques for delivering dose to the breast and regional lymphatics while sparing healthy tissue have been developed, including: 3D conformal radiotherapy and intensity modulated radiation therapy , deep-inspiration breath hold , prone positioning, accelerated partial breast radiation , hypofractionation and proton beam radiotherapy . We will discuss each of these techniques briefly below.

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Are There Options To Prevent Or Treat These Side Effects

Yes. Your health care team can help you prevent or relieve many side effects. Preventing and treating side effects is an important part of your overall cancer treatment. This is called palliative care or supportive care. Before treatment begins, ask what side effects are likely from the specific type of treatment you are receiving and when they may happen. And during and after treatment, let your health care team know how you are feeling on a regular basis.

If Youre Having Radiation Therapy To The Pelvis

Radiation therapy to the pelvis can cause side effects such as:

  • Bladder problems
  • Fertility problems
  • Changes in your sex life

You might also have some of the same problems people get from radiation to the abdomen, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.

Bladder problems

Radiation to the pelvis can cause problems with urination, including:

  • Pain or burning sensations
  • Blood in the urine
  • An urge to urinate often

Most of these problems get better over time, but radiation therapy can cause longer-term side effects as well:

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