Brachytherapy Delivered Via Implantable Device
The doctor places a device inside the breast at the time of the surgery or shortly thereafter which carries targeted radiation to the tissue where the cancer originally grew . This type of radiation may take only one treatment delivered in the operating room or may take 5-7 days given on an outpatient basis in the radiation therapy department.In nearly all cases, the appropriate method is determined by the radiation oncologist based on the location and size of the tumor.
What Is Radiation Therapy For Breast Cancer
Radiation for Breast Cancer. Radiation therapy is treatment with high-energy rays that destroy cancer cells. Some women with breast cancer will need radiation, in addition to other treatments. Radiation therapy is used in several situations: After breast-conserving surgery , to help lower the chance that
How Radiation Is Used With Other Cancer Treatments
For some people, radiation may be the only treatment you need. But, most often, you will have radiation therapy with other cancer treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. Radiation therapy may be given before, during, or after these other treatments to improve the chances that treatment will work. The timing of when radiation therapy is given depends on the type of cancer being treated and whether the goal of radiation therapy is to treat the cancer or ease symptoms.
When radiation is combined with surgery, it can be given:
- Before surgery, to shrink the size of the cancer so it can be removed by surgery and be less likely to return.
- During surgery, so that it goes straight to the cancer without passing through the skin. Radiation therapy used this way is called intraoperative radiation. With this technique, doctors can more easily protect nearby normal tissues from radiation.
- After surgery to kill any cancer cells that remain.
Recommended Reading: What To Do If Diagnosed With Breast Cancer
When Is Radiation Used To Treat Breast Cancer
People with breast cancer can be broadly divided into two groups:
- Those with local or regional cancer limited to the breast and area lymph nodes.
- Those with metastatic disease that has spread to other organs .
If you have local/regional cancer, radiation therapy is often used after surgery to reduce the chance of breast cancer recurrence . If you need chemotherapy as well, the radiation is typically given after chemotherapy is completed.
The type of surgery that you have determines how your radiation therapy is given. Surgery for breast cancer is most often either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy.
- Lumpectomy involves removing the part of the breast with the tumor while sparing the remainder of the breast.
- Mastectomy involves the removal of the entire breast tissue on one side, often with the removal of the lymph nodes under the arm .
Whole Breast Radiation After Lumpectomy
Patient lying “supine” for breast radiation treatment.
In some cases after a lumpectomy, radiation will also be given to the lymph nodes under the arm . This depends on whether or not there was cancer found in the lymph nodes. Ask your radiation oncologist whether you need radiation to the axillary lymph nodes.
Partial Breast Radiation After Lumpectomy
Chest Wall and Lymph Node Radiation After Mastectomy
- The tumor size.
Why And When People Start Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy is a flexible and safe treatment. Doctors may use it after surgery to remove cancerous tumors, as it can reduce the chances of a recurrence by destroying any remaining cancer cells.
If an individual has metastatic breast cancer, which is when cancer has spread to other parts of the body, doctors may also opt to treat them with radiation therapy to ease their symptoms.
Don’t Miss: When Does Breast Cancer Occur
When Is Radiation Therapy A Good Fit For Breast Cancer Treatment
Radiation therapy can play an important role in treating all stages of breast cancer. Situations where radiation therapy for breast cancer might be an appropriate method may include:
- After a lumpectomy , to help reduce the chance of cancer recurrence in the breast or lymph nodes
- After a mastectomyespecially if the cancer was greater than 5 cm , or if cancer is found in the lymph nodes
- If cancer has metastasized
Radiation therapy for breast cancer is not for women who are pregnant, women who have already had radiation to that area of the body, or women who have a connective tissue disease, such as scleroderma or vasculitis.
What Can I Expect From My Treatment
When you arrive, please check in at the desk. Each treatment should only last 10 to 15 minutes. You can change your clothes in the dressing room and then wait in the lounge to be called.
During each treatment session, you will lay on a table while the technician uses the marks on your skin to locate and treat the field. It is important to be still while getting the radiation, although you should continue to breathe normally.
Radiation Therapy For Breast Cancer In Men
Some men with breast cancer will need radiation, often in addition to other treatments. The recommendations for radiation therapy in men with breast cancer is largely taken from those for female breast cancer because not enough studies have been done in men. The need for radiation depends on what type of surgery you had or whether your cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or somewhere else in your body. Tumors that are large or involve the skin might also need radiation. You could have just one type of radiation, or a combination of different types.
Radiation therapy is treatment with high-energy rays or particles that destroy cancer cells. The most common type of radiation therapy for men with breast cancer is called external beam radiation. A machine focuses the radiation on the area affected by the cancer.
Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. There are several types of chemotherapy for breast cancer. Your oncologist will make a recommendation for which type is most likely to work best. Not every breast cancer patient needs chemotherapy, especially when its found at an early stage.
Chemotherapy is usually injected into a vein, but in some cases can be given in an oral form. Its given in cycles which consists of several sessions over the course of a few weeks. The specific timeline depends on the drugs being used and the patients reaction to them. Each cycle is followed by a recovery period to provide a break from the drugs side effects.
Read Also: How Fast Breast Cancer Develops
Side Effects Of Radiation Therapy
Radiation doesn’t only work during individual treatment sessions. Cells that are impacted by radiation at the time of treatment can take daysâor even monthsâto die off completely. In most cases, this cell death, as well as damage to surrounding tissues, is what causes the side effects from radiation therapy.
Breast Cancer Radiation Therapy Available Throughout Willamette Valley
The breast cancer specialists at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute will be with you throughout your cancer treatment process. We work with each patient to develop a personalized treatment plan that may include radiation therapy. We also consider your personal preferences as we determine the treatments and their timing. Second opinions on breast cancer treatment plans are also available to help each patient feel confident with their plan for treatment.
Also Check: Breast Cancer Prognosis By Stage
How Is Brachytherapy Done For Breast Cancer
Intracavitary brachytherapy: This is the most common type of brachytherapy for women with breast cancer. A device is put into the space left from BCS and is left there until treatment is complete. There are several different devices available, most of which require surgical training for proper placement. They all go into the breast as a small catheter . The end of the device inside the breast is then expanded like a balloon so that it stays securely in place for the entire treatment. The other end of the catheter sticks out of the breast. For each treatment, one or more sources of radiation are placed down through the tube and into the device for a short time and then removed. Treatments are typically given twice a day for 5 days as an outpatient. After the last treatment, the device is deflated and removed.
Does Radiation Cause Pain In The Shoulder Area
Pain: Some people experience mild discomfort or pain around the breast, or stiffness in the shoulder area. Over time, treatments should become less uncomfortable. Skin changes: Skin damage is a common side effect of radiation therapy, and having a good skin care routine is essential during treatment.
Don’t Miss: Where Are Lumps Located In Breast Cancer
Radiation For Breast Cancer
Radiation therapy is treatment with high-energy rays that destroy cancer cells. Some women with breast cancer will need radiation, in addition to other treatments.
Depending on the breast cancer’s stage and other factors, radiation therapy can be used in several situations:
- After breast-conserving surgery, to help lower the chance that the cancer will come back in the same breast or nearby lymph nodes.
- After amastectomy, especially if the cancer was larger than 5 cm , if cancer is found in many lymph nodes, or if certain surgical margins, such as the skin or muscle, have cancer cells.
- If cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones, spinal cord, or brain.
Physical Emotional And Social Effects Of Cancer
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.
Supportive 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 supportive 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.
Supportive care treatments vary widely and often include medication, nutritional changes, relaxation techniques, emotional and spiritual support, and other therapies.
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.
Recommended Reading: Gail Model For Breast Cancer Risk
How Long Will Radiotherapy Be Given For
Radiotherapy is usually given daily over one to three weeks. It will be given Monday to Friday with a break at weekends. Most hospitals do not give radiotherapy on bank holidays.
You may have radiotherapy for longer if you need an extra boost.
Depending on local guidelines and your personal situation, your radiotherapy may be given in a slightly different way. For example, you may have a smaller daily dose over a longer period of time.
Your specialist will explain how long you will have radiotherapy for and why.
Your appointments may be arranged for a similar time each day so you can settle into a routine but this isnt always possible.
If you have a holiday booked, tell your specialist or therapeutic radiographer so that together you can decide what arrangements to make.
It is important to attend all your radiotherapy appointments and avoid any gaps in the treatment as much as possible.
Radiotherapy To The Lymph Nodes
Radiotherapy can be given to the lymph nodes under the arm to destroy any cancer cells that may be there.
It may also be given to the lymph nodes in the lower part of the neck around the collarbone, or in the area near the breastbone .
If radiotherapy to the lymph nodes is recommended, your specialist will explain why.
You May Like: Reconstructive Surgery After Breast Cancer
When Will I Get Radiation Therapy
If you will need external radiation therapy after surgery, it is usually not started until your surgery site has healed, which is often a month or longer. If you are getting chemotherapy as well, radiation treatments are usually delayed until chemotherapy is complete.
Breast radiation is most often given 5 days a week for about 6 to 7 weeks.
What Is Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy uses ionizing radiation, such as high-energy X-rays or particles, to treat cancer. It damages cancer cells DNA, keeps them from growing and dividing, and minimizes damage to healthy cells.
For most people, radiation begins three to four weeks after surgery to destroy undetectable cancer cells and reduce the risk of relapse .
Radiation therapy is a painless procedure and an effective way to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurring after surgery by approximately 50 percent.
In addition, it is commonly used to ease the symptoms caused by cancer that has spread to other parts of the body or improve the quality of life.
Read Also: Is Breast Cancer Painful In Early Stages
Where Do I Start
You first will meet with a radiation oncologist to decide if radiation therapy is a recommended treatment option for your particular situation. If you and your doctors decide to proceed, then you will have an extended consultation in which you discuss the details of your treatment. This includes the exact area to treat, the amount of radiation you will receive, the length of treatment time and potential treatment side effects. The radiation oncologist will also answer any questions you may have. These issues vary for each person, so it is important to make an individual treatment plan.
Prone Position External Beam Radiation Therapy
Perlmutter Cancer Center radiation oncologists helped pioneer prone external beam radiation therapy, which allows for better distribution of the treatment dose. During this approach, you lie in a prone position, or face down, rather than on your back, called the supine position.
Our doctors helped pioneer prone external beam radiation therapy, which allows for better targeting of the treatment dose while avoiding nearby organs, such as the heart or lungs.
This positioning lets gravity displace the breast tissue away from the body, allowing radiation oncologists to better target the breast tissue while avoiding the heart and lungs.
Another advantage of the prone position is that it decreases the incidence of skin irritation. Radiation beams are evenly distributed throughout the breast and are less concentrated in the skin folds, as compared to radiation therapy given to women when they lie on their backs during treatment.
Whole breast radiation and partial breast radiation are typically delivered while you are in the prone position. After mastectomy, the supine, or back-lying position, is used for better targeting of the lymph nodes surrounding a tumor.
Recommended Reading: What Foods Kill Breast Cancer Cells
Types Of Radiation Therapy For Breast Cancer Treatment
Radiation therapy is used to treat some cases of breast cancer. Radiation is often used to kill any remaining cancer cells after surgery. Radiation therapy damages DNA and kills cells in a particular area . Radiation oncologists can target certain areas with radiation using different radiation techniques. The techniques used depend on the type of surgery and the location and extent of cancer. This article will review some of the common forms of radiation therapy for breast cancer.
Radiation Therapy After Mastectomy
A mastectomy is a surgery to remove the entire breast. Rarely is radiation therapy required for these patients. However, your oncologist might recommend it if there are enough risk factors for the cancer returning in the future, such as the number of affected lymph nodes, your BRCA gene status, and the size and location of the cancer.
Don’t Miss: Does Breast Cancer Cause Bruising
Radiation Therapy Clinical Trials For Breast Cancer
Clinical trials are research studies that test new treatments to see how well they work and confirm that they are safe. Women who choose to participate in a trial at MSK receive the most advanced cancer treatments available, sometimes years before they are available anywhere else.
We offer a number of clinical trial options for women with breast cancer who are receiving radiation therapy. For example, MSK investigators are leading a national trial on the use of proton therapy to limit radiation-induced heart disease. Our team is also testing radiation in combination with new drugs, such as immunotherapy for recurrent breast cancer.
Radiation Therapy For Breast Cancer
Don’t Miss: Common Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
Questions To Ask The Medical Oncologist
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.
Don’t Miss: Breast Cancer Spread To Chest Wall Symptoms