When Is Radiation Therapy Used
Radiation therapy can be used to treat all stages of breast cancer.
Pregnant women should not have radiation therapy because it can harm the unborn baby. Read about Treatment for Breast Cancer During Pregnancy.
Radiation therapy after lumpectomy
Radiation therapy is recommended for most people who have lumpectomy to remove breast cancer. Lumpectomy is sometimes called breast-conserving surgery. The goal of radiation after lumpectomy is to destroy any individual cancer cells that may have been left in the breast after the tumor was removed. This reduces the risk of the cancer coming back and the risk of passing away from breast cancer.
Heres a good analogy for understanding the role of radiation therapy after surgery:If you drop a glass on the kitchen floor, you must first sweep up all of the big pieces of glass and throw them away you can think of breast surgery in this way, says Marisa Weiss, M.D., founder and chief medical officer of Breastcancer.org and director of breast radiation oncology at Lankenau Medical Center. Radiation therapy is like vacuuming the area after you sweep, getting into the corners and under the furniture, to get rid of any tiny shards of glass that might be left behind.
Radiation therapy after mastectomy
Radiation therapy may be recommended after mastectomy to destroy any cancer cells that may be left behind after the surgery. During mastectomy, it’s difficult for surgeons to take out every cell of breast tissue.
How Do I Make The Best Food Choices Throughout Cancer Treatment
When you are faced with a breast cancer diagnosis, nutrition can be an important part of your journey. Eating a well-balanced diet before, during, and after cancer treatment can help you feel better, maintain your strength, and speed your recovery.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Depending on what breast cancer treatment you undergo, you may experience weight gain or weight loss. Aim to maintain a healthy weight during treatment, avoiding excess gain or loss. Strict dieting during treatment is not recommended. Many breast cancer patients gain weight as a result of treatment as well.
- Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day. Eating frequent small meals will ensure your body is getting enough calories, protein, and nutrients to tolerate treatment. Smaller meals may also help to reduce treatment-related side effects such as nausea. Try eating 5- 6 small meals or mini meals about every three hours.
- Choose protein-rich foods. Protein helps the body to repair cells and tissue. It also helps your immune system recover from illness. Include a source of lean protein at all meals and snacks. Good sources of lean protein include:
- Lean meats such as chicken, fish, or turkey
- Soy foods
During Your Radiation Treatments
Your radiation therapists will bring you to the treatment room and help you lie on the treatment table . Youll be positioned exactly how you were during your simulation and set-up procedure. Your radiation therapists will do everything they can to make sure youre comfortable. Then, theyll leave the room, close the door, and start your treatment.
Figure 2. An example of a radiation treatment machine
Breathe normally during your treatment, but dont move. You wont see or feel the radiation, but you may hear the machine as it moves around you and is turned on and off. Your radiation therapists will be able to see you on a monitor and talk with you through an intercom during your whole treatment. Tell them if youre uncomfortable or need help.
Youll be in the treatment room for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on your treatment plan. Most of this time will be spent putting you in the correct position. The actual treatment only takes a few minutes.
Your radiation treatment wont make you or your clothes radioactive. Its safe for you to be around other people.
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Reduce Nausea And Vomiting
Nausea and vomiting are common side effects of radiation therapy and other cancer medications. These conditions can lead to a loss of appetite and harmful weight loss. Stanford Medicine recommends choosing foods that are easy to digest and help soothe an upset stomach. These include toast, pretzels, yogurt, oatmeal, noodles, baked chicken, and soft or canned fruit. You can also reduce nausea by sticking to clear liquids, such as broth, clear carbonated beverages, apple juice, plain gelatin, tea, water and ice chips.
Things To Avoid During Radiation Therapy
Suffering with cancer comes with a host of different challenges and obstacles financially, mentally, physically, and spiritually. Throughout the course of your treatment, you may have begun, or are currently undergoing radiation therapy. Radiation therapy works by creating small breaks inside of the DNA of cells. These breaks help disrupt the growth and division of cancer cells, causing them to die. This article will focus on things to avoid during radiation therapy.
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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.
Key Points To Remember
- Chemotherapy is sometimes used after surgery for early-stage breast cancer to help lower the chances that your breast cancer will come back.
- Some types of cancer have a very small chance of coming back. Women who have these types of cancer may not need chemo. There are gene tests that may show whether having chemo will help you reduce your chances that the cancer will return.
- Your age, type of cancer, tumour size, and hormone receptor status have an effect on how well chemo will work to keep your cancer from coming back.
- Different medicines used for chemo have different side effects. Your doctor can give you other medicines to help you deal with side effects like nausea and vomiting. Some women are bothered a lot by the side effects, but some aren’t.
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More Things To Avoid During Your Radiation Therapy Foods
Its important to note before diving into this section Only your doctor should advise/prescribe a specific diet for each patient based on their individual situation. Consult your doctor for any and all dietary questions.
This is a common topic and a familiar question asked by those undergoing radiation therapy:
What foods should I avoid during radiation?
Food can go a long way towards easing side effects of radiation therapy, as well as aiding in the fight against cancer itself. And while there are plenty of foods that WILL help your body throughout your treatment, there a plenty you should steer clear of as well.
Eating Well During Treatment
Try to eat well. A healthy diet helps your body function at its best. This is even more important if you have cancer. Youll go into treatment with reserves to help keep up your strength, your energy level, and your defenses against infection. A healthy diet can also prevent body tissue from breaking down and build new tissues. People who eat well are better able to cope with side effects of treatment. And you may even be able to handle higher doses of certain drugs. In fact, some cancer treatments work better in people who are well-nourished and are getting enough calories and protein. Try these tips:
- Dont be afraid to try new foods. Some things you never have liked before might taste good during treatment.
- Choose different plant-based foods. Try eating beans and peas instead of meat at a few meals each week.
- Try to eat more fruits and vegetables every day, including citrus fruits and dark-green and deep-yellow vegetables. Colorful vegetables and fruits and plant-based foods have many natural health-promoting substances.
- Try to stay at a healthy weight, and stay physically active. Small weight changes during treatment are normal.
- Limit the amount of salt-cured, smoked, and pickled foods you eat.
- Limit or avoid red or processed meats
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Additional Eating And Drinking Tips For Radiation Therapy
- Chew your food slowly. Take your time eating each small meal.
- To make sure youre getting enough calories during radiation, ask yourself, What can I add to this meal to make it more calorie-rich? Think about topping your dishes with dressings and sauces. Or, think about adding extra ingredients you can add in or on top of your dishes.
- Cook foods that smell good
- Drink beverages that are high in calories, like hot chocolate and fruit juice
- Eat foods in a stress-free relaxing setting to make eating a positive experience
- Eat every few hours vs waiting until youre hungry
Top 5 Ingredients Of A Healthy Diet During Radiation Cancer Therapy
Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that shrinks and destroys cancer cells. During radiation, its important to eat well. This keeps the body and its immune system strong, giving it the nutrients it needs to promote the regrowth of healthy tissues. Eating well during radiation also maintains energy, helps patients tolerate radiation side effects, lowers risks of infection, and speeds up recovery.
However, the nutrients and foods a person needs during cancer treatment vary based on the individual, how their body responds to radiation, the treatment area, and the length of treatment. While there is no one-size-fits-all radiation diet, there are some guidelines and tips that can help you find the best one during your cancer treatment.
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Be Careful What You Eat
Some raw foods can contain germs that can hurt you when cancer or treatment weakens your immune system. Ask your health care provider about how to eat well and safely.
Eggs can have bacteria called Salmonella on their inside and outside. This is why eggs should be cooked completely before eating.
- Yolks and whites should be cooked solid. Do not eat runny eggs.
- Do not eat foods that may have raw eggs in them .
Be careful when you have dairy products:
- All milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy should have the word pasteurized on their containers.
- Do not eat soft cheeses or cheeses with blue veins .
- Do not eat Mexican-style cheeses .
Fruits and vegetables:
- Wash all raw fruits, vegetables, and fresh herbs with cold running water.
- Do not eat raw vegetable sprouts .
- Do not use fresh salsa or salad dressings that are kept in the refrigerated cases of the grocery store.
- Drink only juice that says pasteurized on the container.
Do not eat raw honey. Eat only heat-treated honey. Avoid sweets that have creamy fillings.
A Healthy Diet For Radiation Therapy
As one of the most common cancer treatment options, radiation therapy is used to shrink tumors and stop the growth of cancerous cells. Similar to other treatment solutions, radiation therapy can make individuals with cancer become fatigued or disinterested in eating, among other side-effects. Thats why its important to maintain a healthy diet during radiation therapy. If you or a loved one are undergoing radiation therapy, RCCA can help you find a nutritious diet for maintaining your health during and after treatment.
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A Recommended Sample Menu
Following is a days sample of foods to eat during radiation treatment:
- 1 cup of oatmeal with 8 ounces of whole milk, 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 1 tablespoon butter
- 4oz Ensure/ Boost Plus
- 4oz pudding that includes whole milk
- 4oz Ensure/ Boost Plus
- 1cup of cheese with 1/2cup of mandarin oranges similar fruit
- 2scrambled eggs with 1tablespoon butter or oil
- 1/2cup of canned fruit, heavy syrup together with 2tablespoon heavy or whipped cream
- 8oz Ensure/ Boost Plus
- 1cup chicken soup, 1tablespoon added oil, and 1 2tablespoons protein powder or milk powder
- 8oz Ensure/ Boost Plus
- 1/2cup ice- cream – premium, 1tablespoon chocolate syrup
- 8oz whole milk
Nutritional Therapy In Bcps
Nutritional therapy can improve and prevent adverse changes in the body composition of BCPs at the early stages of the disease . To promote an early nutritional intervention and prevent the deterioration of cancer patients nutritional status, the Spanish Society of Basic and Applied Nutrition, in collaboration with the Society of Oncology and Palliative Care and Health Professionals of Nutrition and Cancer, have proposed an algorithm of nutritional intervention for oncologic patients. Its main objectives are to correct nutritional deficiencies, prevent premature death associated with malnutrition, and improve BCPs quality of life and tolerance to cancer treatment .
To apply the algorithm, BCP nutritional status must be classified according to SGA: 1) well nourished, 2) moderate malnutrition, and 3) severe malnutrition . After the nutritional status is classified, follow-up is suggested within 1530 d between appointments. This allows the clinical nutritionist to monitor the patient periodically, providing general and specific recommendations on each visit according to the patients nutritional status and antineoplastic treatment .
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Radiation Therapy Timing And Breast Reconstruction
The timing of radiation treatment in your overall breast cancer treatment plan depends on your individual situation and the characteristics of the breast cancer.
In many cases, radiation therapy is given after surgery. If chemotherapy is planned after surgery, radiation usually follows chemotherapy.
If youre having mastectomy and have decided to have breast reconstruction, its important to know that radiation can cause a reconstructed breast to lose volume and change color, texture, and appearance.
In particular, radiation therapy is known to cause complications with implant reconstruction. Research also suggests that a reconstructed breast may interfere with radiation therapy reaching the area affected by cancer, though this can vary on a case-by-case basis.
For these reasons, some surgeons advise waiting until after radiation and other treatments, such as chemotherapy, are completed before breast reconstruction surgery is done.
Other surgeons may recommend a more staged approach, which places a tissue expander after mastectomy to preserve the shape of the breast during radiation treatments. Once radiation is completed and the tissues have recovered, the expander that was used to maintain the shape of the breast is removed and replaced with tissue from another part of the body or a breast implant.
Avoid Highly Acidic & Spicy Foods
Radiation to the pelvis and abdomen can cause intestinal damage. Radiotherapy to treat head, neck and chest area can cause throat damage. And some treatments can cause damage to the mouth, leaving patients with open sores. Acidic and spicy foods are not good to eat if you experience these types of side effects.
Tomatoes and citrus fruits are listed as a good foods that help fight cancer. Yes, they contain a powerhouse of nutrients and anti-oxidants. But they arent good for radiation patients who suffer from digestive issues and mouth pain.
Similarly, hot peppers contain capsaicin, a chemical that can help kill cancer cells. But only eat these if you are feeling well. Maybe leave them for a few weeks after your radiation treatments are done. My radiation side effects extended for weeks after treatments were completed.
If any foods bother you, dont eat them.
Keep trying to find foods that you can eat, a little at a time.
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Proteins To Heal Cells
Protein is the building material of your body, and is necessary for healing and rejuvenating your body. It is particularly important to get sufficient amounts of protein-rich foods during all the stages of your cancer treatment and recovery. A review published in “CA,” a journal for clinicians, recommends that patients in recovery get at least 10 percent of their daily calories from proteins. The best sources of protein include low-fat meat, poultry, fish, eggs, low-fat milk and dairy products, legumes and nuts.
Radiation For Metastatic Breast Cancer
Sometimes breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body. When this happens, the breast cancer is called metastatic or stage IV.
If youve been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer and are having symptoms, your doctor may recommend radiation therapy to:
- ease pain
- lower the risk of a cancer-weakened bone breaking
- open a blocked airway to improve breathing
- reduce pressure on a pinched spinal cord or nerve that might be causing pain, numbness, or weakness
- treat cancer that has spread to the brain
The radiation dose and schedule to treat metastatic breast cancer depends on a number of factors, including:
- the level of pain or amount of function lost
- the size of the cancer
- the location of the cancer
- the amount of previous radiation youve had
- the schedule for any other treatments
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Staying On Track With Radiation Treatments
The benefits of radiation therapy strongly depend on getting the full recommended dose without significant breaks, because:
- The full dose of radiation is needed to get rid of any cancer cells remaining after surgery.
- Radiation therapy is most effective when given continuously on schedule. In the past, it was given every day, 5 days a week, for 5 to 7 weeks. Accelerated, also called hypofractionated, radiation therapy schedules deliver about the same total dose of radiation over a shorter schedule usually 3 to 4 weeks, which can be more convenient. Partial breast radiation can be completed in 1 to 3 weeks. Also, by seeing your doctor regularly during and after treatment, you can best deal with any side effects.
Why you might have problems sticking to your radiation therapy plan:
- The treatment schedule may conflict with job demands, family needs, or the distance you live from the treatment facility. This may cause you to miss or postpone appointments, even if youre on an accelerated schedule.
- Skin irritation from radiation can cause soreness, peeling, and sometimes blisters. If you’ve also had lymph-node surgery, radiation treatment may worsen breast or underarm pain or discomfort. If you have these side effects, you might feel like stopping radiation.
Ways to overcome problems and stay on track with radiation treatment: