Radiation therapy to the breast can cause some side effects. Some begin during treatment. Others may occur months or even years later. Your provider may be able to suggest a hospital social worker, patient navigator, psychologist or support group to help ease anxiety related to radiation therapy or breast cancer.
Side effects of radiation for breast cancer: What to know
Radiation therapy also called radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. It affects cells only in the part of the body that is treated with the radiation. Breast cancer radiation therapy may be used to destroy any remaining mutated cells that remain in the breast or armpit area after surgery. Note : There are special situations in which radiation is used for women with metastatic breast cancer experiencing painful bone metastasis. This section however focused on the use of radiation for adjuvant therapy treatment given after the main treatment to lower the chance of breast cancer returning. Who should expect to be prescribed radiation therapy and what is involved?
What are the side effects of radiation for breast cancer?
Physician attitudes and patient expectations are driving overtreatment in older breast cancer patients. A new U-M study examines why the practice persists. Recent clinical trials have shown that 90 percent of early stage breast cancer patients over age 70 do not benefit from radiation after breast-conserving surgery. And yet, use of radiation in this context has dropped only minimally.
Some women with breast cancer will need radiation, often in addition to other treatments. The need for radiation depends on what type of surgery you had, whether your cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or somewhere else in your body, and in some cases, your age. Tumors that are large or involve the skin might also need radiation. You could have just one type of radiation, or a combination of different types. Radiation therapy is treatment with high-energy rays such as x-rays or particles that destroy cancer cells.