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Radiation Therapy of Breast Cancer

The Radiotherapy of the breast after surgery can decrease the chance of cancer returning in the breast and improve survival. Radiation therapy involves delivering focused radiation to the breast or chest wall, and sometimes the regional lymph nodes, to treat cancer cells not detected or removed by surgery. Radiation therapy kills cancer cells by destroying their ability to multiply.

Whole Breast External Beam Radiation Therapy after Lumpectomy

After lumpectomy, the usual course of radiation treats the whole breast and, if needed, nearby lymph node areas. The radiation beam is generated from a machine called a linear accelerator, or LINAC. The radiation beam is a specialized X-ray and is painless. Treatment is delivered every day, five days a week. The full course of treatment is usually delivered over three to seven weeks, depending on findings during surgery and the histopathology report. Before beginning treatment, you will be scheduled for a pre-treatment planning session to map out the area to treat. This involves CT Simulation. Typically, radiation therapy is done with high-energy X-rays or photons. If needed, electrons may be used to treat the tumor bed or chest wall with a less penetrating, more focused beam.

Recent clinical trials suggest that whole breast radiation may be safely shortened by treating with slightly higher daily doses over less time.

Caring for yourself during Treatment: