Radiation therapy for breast cancer
Many breast cancer patients come to CTCA with advanced stage disease. Many others have previously received traditional radiation treatments and cannot tolerate more radiation exposure. Our innovative technologies allow our doctors to re-treat previously treated areas that have a recurrence of cancer.
When a breast tumor is large or not easily removed by surgery, radiation therapy before surgery can help to shrink the breast tumor. After breast-sparing surgery, radiation treatments can help destroy any remaining breast cancer cells.
Addressing breast cancer radiation therapy side effects
When radiation passes through the skin, the skin cells in the treatment area become damaged. If you receive frequent radiation, your skin cells often do not have enough time to repair and regenerate in between treatments.
Common breast cancer radiation side effects may include redness, dryness or irritation of the skin in the treated area. Another common side effect is fatigue, especially in the later weeks of treatment and for some time afterward.
Our radiation oncologists are able to deliver higher radiation doses to breast cancer cells while limiting damage to healthy tissue. Your radiation oncologist may also recommend radioprotective drugs, such as amifostine, to help guard healthy tissue from exposure to radiation.
If skin irritation occurs, your doctors will provide various comfort measures. For example, you may receive topical drugs in the form of therapeutic creams or ointments. You may also receive antibiotics to fight infection or pain medications to relieve discomfort.
Throughout your breast cancer treatment, your care team will provide various supportive care services to help you cope better with potential breast cancer radiation side effects. For instance, mind-body medicine may help you relax with techniques like distraction and guided imagery. Image enhancement may help you look and feel better about yourself.