Radiation Therapy For Breast Cancer

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Radiation Therapy forBreast CancerBreast cancer is the most common type ofcancer in American women, according to theAmerican Cancer Society. This year, 284,200women and 2,650 men will learn they havebreast cancer. Another 49,290 women will learnthey have noninvasive (also called in situ) breastcancer. Breast cancer can often be cured. About80 percent of all patients with breast cancer liveat least 10 years after their diagnosis.AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR RADIATION ONCOLOGY

TREATING BREAST CANCERIf you find out you have breast cancer, you should discuss your treatment optionswith your physician. Breast cancer treatment will vary depending on the stageand location of the cancer.Breast cancer treatment options include:Surgery is the main treatment for localized breast cancer. This is often followedby radiation therapy to decrease the risk of cancer returning in the breast, chestwall and/or lymph nodes.Lumpectomy, or partial mastectomy, is the surgical removal of the canceroustissue along with a small rim of surrounding healthy breast tissue. This type ofbreast-conserving surgery is often followed by radiation therapy.Mastectomy is the surgical removal of the entire breast. Sometimes, breastreconstruction can be performed after the mastectomy. While less common,radiation is sometimes recommended after mastectomy as well.A select number of lymph nodes near the breast may be removed during surgeryto determine if they contain tumor cells. If one or more of the lymph nodescontain tumor cells, the removal of additional lymph nodes may berecommended. An examination of the lymph nodes is typically performed withlumpectomy or mastectomy for invasive (non-DCIS) disease.Both mastectomy and breast-conserving therapy (surgery and radiation) can beequally effective approaches in curing breast cancer. Ask your surgeon andradiation oncologist about the risks and benefits of both options.Radiation Therapy after surgery can decrease the chance of cancer returningin the breast and improve survival. Radiation therapy involves delivering focusedradiation to the breast or chest wall, and sometimes the lymph nodes, to treatcancer cells not detected or removed by surgery. Radiation therapy kills cancercells by destroying their ability to multiply.

Medical Therapy is often recommended to improve cure rates or prevent a newbreast cancer from developing. A medical oncologist will evaluate you anddetermine what medications may be most helpful in accomplishing those goals.Chemotherapy has the ability to destroy cancer cells. Often, two or threedifferent types of drugs may be combined to get the best outcome. While thedose and schedule for treatment varies, chemotherapy is usually delivered everytwo to three weeks over a few months. Sometimes this treatment is given beforesurgery (called neoadjuvant therapy).Hormonal therapy can block the effects of the female hormone, estrogen, in thebody. Estrogen has been shown in some cases to cause your tumor to grow.Usually taken as a daily pill, hormonal therapy may be started during or afterradiation therapy is completed. While the dose of the pill may change dependingon the type of pill prescribed, this pill is usually taken daily for several years.Immunotherapy works by either stimulating your immune system to attackcancer cells or providing your immune system with what it needs, such asantibodies, to fight cancer.Ask your medical oncologist what medications may be best for you.WHOLE BREAST EXTERNAL BEAM RADIATION THERAPY AFTERLUMPECTOMYAfter lumpectomy, the usual course of radiation treats the whole breast and, ifneeded, nearby lymph node areas. The radiation beam comes from a machinecalled a linear accelerator, or linac. The radiation beam is a specialized X-ray, andis painless. Each treatment is brief. Treatment is delivered every day, five days aweek, Monday through Friday. The full course of treatment is usually deliveredover three to seven weeks, depending on findings during surgery.Before beginning treatment, you will be scheduled for a pre-treatment planningsession to map out the area to treat. This involves having X-rays and/or a CT scan.Tiny tattoo-like marks made on your skin help the radiation therapist preciselyposition you for daily treatment.

Typically, radiation therapy is done with high energy X-rays, or photons. Ifneeded, electrons or protons may be used to treat the breast or chest wall with aless penetrating, more focused beam.Recent clinical trials suggest that whole breast radiation may be safely shortenedby treating the tumor with slightly higher daily doses over less time.ACCELERATED PARTIAL BREAST IRRADIATION AFTERLUMPECTOMY (APBI)Ongoing research suggests that in certain patients, it may be safe to giveradiation treatment to only the part of the breast that had the tumor, over ashorter period of time.There are two approaches to APBI:1. Breast brachytherapy (internal radiation) involves placing flexibleplastic tubes called catheters, or a balloon-like device (BLD), directly into thespace where the cancer was taken out. A small, radioactive seed is guidedinto the catheters or BLD and is left in place for several minutes based on thetreatment plan designed by your radiation oncologist. The procedure isrepeated two times a day for a period of five days, then the catheters or BLD isremoved and the treatment is finished.2. External beam radiation therapy is delivered in a similar way tostandard whole breast radiation using a linear accelerator. However, it is morefocused on the area around the surgery. Treatment occurs one to two timesper day over a one to two week period.The initial results of these techniques appear promising but are still beingstudied. Talk with your radiation oncologist for more information.CHEST WALL RADIATION THERAPY AFTER MASTECTOMYAfter a mastectomy, your doctor may suggest radiation therapy for the chest walland nearby lymph node areas. Whether or not radiation therapy should be usedafter removal of your breast depends on several factors such as the number oflymph nodes involved, tumor size and whether or not cancer cells were found

near the edge of the surgical site. Women planning to undergo reconstructionshould discuss the impact of post-mastectomy radiation with their surgeon andradiation oncologist.If you have left-sided breast cancer, breathing techniques may be used duringyour treatments to minimize heart dose.CARING FOR YOURSELF DURING TREATMENT Get plenty of rest during treatment, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.Follow your doctor’s advice. Ask if you are unsure about anything.There are no stupid questions.Tell your doctor about any medications, vitamins or supplements you aretaking to make sure they are safe to use during radiation therapy.Eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of fluids. If you’re having trouble eating,tell your doctor, nurse or dietitian.Treat the skin exposed to radiation with special care. Stay out of the sun, avoidhot or cold packs, only use lotions and ointments after checking with yourdoctor or nurse and clean the area with warm water and mild soap.Coping with the stress of a cancer diagnosis can be tough. It may help to seekout help from support groups and friends.

FatigueSkin irritation,redness, peelingSwelling,itchiness, pain,tendernessshortmore likelypossible silong tDarkening/thickening of skinScar tissueArmswelling*Larger/darker bubbles show higher likelihood of occurrence. Smaller/lighter bubbles show lesser likelihood of occurre

MuscletighteningShortness ofBreath/CoughArmswellingSorethroattermide effectsless likelytermBreast sizechangeShortness nce. This list doesn’t represent all of the possible side effects. Please talk to your doctors about your specific diagnosis.

ABOUT THE RADIATION ONCOLOGY TEAMRadiation oncologists are cancer doctors who alsooversee the care of each patient undergoing radiationtreatment. Other members of the radiation oncologyteam include radiation therapists, radiation oncology nurses,medical physicists, dosimetrists, social workers and nutritionists. To locate aradiation oncologist in your area, visit www.rtanswers.org.ABOUT ASTROThe American Society for Radiation Oncology is the premier radiation oncologysociety in the world with more than 10,000 members who specialize in treatingcancer with radiation therapy. ASTRO’s mission is to advance the practice ofradiation oncology by promoting excellence in patient care, promoting researchand disseminating research results. Visit www.astro.org for more information.LEARNING ABOUT CLINICAL TRIALSFor more information on clinical trials, please visit:National Cancer Institutewww.cancer.gov/clinicaltrialsNRG Oncologywww.nrgoncology.orgRadiation Therapy Answerswww.rtanswers.orgAMERICAN SOCIETY FOR RADIATION ONCOLOGY251 18th Street South, 8th Floor, Arlington, VA 22202Phone: 703-502-1550 Fax: 703-502-7852www.astro.org www.rtanswers.org ASTRO 2021

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in American women, according to the American Cancer Society. This year, 284,200 women and 2,650 men will learn they have breast cancer. Another 49,290 women will learn they have noninvasive (also called in situ) breast cancer. Breast cancer can often be cured. About 80 percent of all patients with .

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