Radiation therapy for breast cancer uses high-energy x-rays, protons, or other particles to kill cancer cells. Fast-growing cells, such as cancer cells, are more susceptible to the effects of radiation therapy than normal cells. X-rays or particles are painless and invisible. Radiation therapy is a treatment with high-energy rays (or particles) that kill cancer cells.
Some women with breast cancer will need radiation, in addition to other treatments. External-beam radiation therapy is the most common form of radiation therapy for breast cancer. In this approach, a machine called a linear accelerator, or LINAC, produces radiation. Radiation is delivered as precisely directed X-ray beams.
Radiation therapy (also called radiation therapy) uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. It affects cells only in the part of the body that is treated with radiation. Radiation therapy for breast cancer can be used to kill any remaining mutated cells left in the area of the breast or armpit after surgery. Standard radiation therapy (also called radiation therapy) uses high-energy targeted x-rays or other forms of radiation to kill cancer cells.
During years of clinical trials, radiation oncologists have studied the use of radiation therapy to treat breast cancer. These studies led to the widespread use of effective and tolerable doses of radiation therapy. It is used to treat early-stage breast cancer along with surgery for local control of the disease. It can be used in more advanced breast cancer to control the disease or to treat symptoms, such as pain.
Radiation for breast cancer is a common treatment that kills or slows the growth of cancer cells. Although it also affects nearby healthy cells, these cells usually recover after treatment ends. With this method, a large machine sends beams of radiation to the area of the breast that has been affected by cancer. In intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), special computer program is used to create a personalized dose plan to deliver radiation to the breast.
The doctor places a device inside the breast at the time of surgery or soon after, that carries radiation to the tissue where the cancer originally grew (also known as the tumor bed). MSK experts recommend radiation therapy after a lumpectomy to lower the chances of cancer returning. Some women age 70 and older who have small invasive breast cancers with negative lymph nodes that are positive for the estrogen receptor (and who will receive hormonal therapy) may avoid radiation therapy after a lumpectomy. However, this section focused on the use of radiation for adjuvant therapy (treatment given after the main treatment to reduce the likelihood of breast cancer returning).
Whether or not a BCS or mastectomy has been performed, if cancer was found in the lymph nodes in the armpit (axillary lymph nodes), radiation may be given to this area. During treatment, the doctor or surgeon inserts a radioactive liquid with needles, wires, or a catheter to attack the area where the cancer originally began to grow and the tissue closest to the tumor site to kill any remaining possible cancer cells. The most common type of radiation therapy is external-beam radiation, according to the American Cancer Society. After total breast radiation or even after surgery alone, most breast cancers tend to return very close to the area where the tumor was removed (tumor bed).
With breast cancer, radiation therapy usually starts about 3 to 4 weeks after breast-conserving therapy or mastectomy, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Early studies of intracavitary brachytherapy as the only radiation after BCS had promising results in having at least the same cancer control compared to standard whole breast radiation, but they may have more complications, including poor cosmetic results. Instead of directing radiation beams from outside the body, a device containing radioactive seeds or granules is placed in the breast tissue for a short period of time in the area where the cancer was removed (tumor bed). The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) are respected organizations that regularly review and update their guidelines.