What is Radiation Therapy for breast cancer?
High-energy X-rays, protons, or other particles are used in radiation treatment to destroy cancer cells in the breast. Rapidly developing cells, such as cancer cells, are more vulnerable to radiation treatment than normal cells. Radiation treatment is being used to treat almost all stages of breast cancer.
Radiation treatment can be utilized in a variety of conditions, depending on the stage of the breast cancer and other factors:
- Radiation treatment can help lower the chances of breast cancer recurrence following surgery.
- It is also widely used to alleviate the symptoms of cancer that have spread to other places in the body, including metastatic breast cancer.
Alternate Name of Radiation Therapy
- X-ray therapy
- Internal radiation (brachytherapy)
How radiation therapy for breast cancer is performed?
- When the patient arrives at the hospital or treatment center, they will enter a designated room reserved for radiation therapy.
- The radiation therapist assists the patient to lie in the same position throughout the simulation.
- The therapist may use photographs or X-rays to verify that the patient is correctly positioned.
- The therapist exits the room and activates the radiation delivery equipment.
- The therapist will watch the patient on a television screen from another room, even if they aren't in the room throughout the therapy.
Preparation for Radiation Therapy to treat Breast Cancer
- Clean up the area by using moisturizer. Moisturising is crucial before and after treatment, but moisturizing the region a few weeks before treatment can help avoid redness and pain.
- Avoid taking a hot water bath, and also stay away from soaps and shower gels that might irritate the skin.
- The radiation oncologist selects the best treatment for the patient, monitors their progress, and makes any required adjustments to the treatment.
The most common two types of radiation therapy for cancer treatment are
- External beam radiation
- Internal beam radiation (brachytherapy)
There are various types and schedules of external beam radiation therapies for cancer treatment, including:
- Breast radiation
- Accelerated partial breast irradiation
- Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT)
- 3D-conformal Radiotherapy for Breast Cancer (3D-CRT)
- Intensity-modulated Radiotherapy for Breast Cancer (IMRT)
- Chest wall radiation
The following list comprises the types of Internal beam radiation for breast cancer treatment:
- Intracavitary brachytherapy
- Interstitial brachytherapy
- Physical therapy, vocational counseling, neuropsychological testing, pain management, dietary planning, and emotional counseling are some treatments that may be advisable for cancer rehabilitation.
- Checking for a recurrence, which suggests cancer has returned, is one purpose of follow-up care. The goal of treatment for early-stage or locally progressed breast cancer is to eliminate as many cancer cells as possible from the body.
- If the patient is experiencing any adverse effects, it is crucial to report to the medical team to avoid complications.
- Intake of enriched protein is advisable after surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy for breast cancer to help heal and fight infection.
Risks of Radiation Therapy for breast cancer
Some of the short-term effects of radiation therapy for breast cancer include the following:
- Difficulty swallowing.
- Shortness of breath.
- Skin damage
- Sore throat
- Shoulder stiffness
- Severe pain
- Persistent discomfort
The following list consists of the long-term effects of radiation therapy for breast cancer are
- Brachial plexopathy
- Permanent hair loss
If side effects are affecting your quality of life, you should consult a doctor, who may be able to suggest ways to alleviate the pain.
Recovery From Breast Cancer
Radiation therapy for breast cancer can be a very successful treatment. Some adverse effects are expected, but the majority will be minor and will pass with time.
The radiation oncologist or other medical experts will plan follow-up appointments to check on the patient’s progress, screen for late side effects, and seek symptoms of cancer recurrence after radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy skin responses are generally at their peak 1 to 2 weeks after you stop treatment and then begin to recover. Skin responses usually take 2 to 4 weeks to recover.
Radiation treatment has reduced the likelihood of dying from cancer by around 33%. Chances of living ten years after therapy has boosted from 50 to 60%.
Please get in touch with a clinical oncologist or nurse if you have any concerns.