What is radiation therapy?
Radiation therapy uses targeted energy to kill cancer cells, shrink tumors and provide relief of certain cancer-related symptoms. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), our state-of-the-art radiation therapy program brings our patients the leading technology.
Our radiation oncologists use a variety of advanced technologies to deliver maximum radiation doses to tumors, with less damage to healthy tissues and organs. By focusing the radiation directly on the tumor, there is a lower risk of side effects.
Your well-being is at the center of everything we do. In addition to our leading radiation technologies, you’ll be treated by a team of clinicians from areas like nutrition therapy and oncology rehabilitation, all working together to meet your needs throughout treatment. This approach helps us plan for any side effects from the start, and quickly address any symptoms you may experience.
Video: Radiation TherapyLearn about radiation therapy
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 leading-edge technologies make it possible for 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 integrative oncology services to help you cope better with potential breast cancer radiation side effects. For instance, mind-body medicine can help you relax with techniques like distraction and guided imagery. Image enhancement can help you look and feel better about yourself.