Also known as radiotherapy, radiation therapy is the use of targeted radiation to kill or damage cancer cells so they cannot grow, multiply or spread. The radiation is usually in the form of x-ray beams. You will usually start radiation therapy about four weeks after surgery. Treatment is carefully planned to have the greatest effect on the cancer cells and to limit damage to the surrounding healthy tissues. Planning involves several steps, which may occur over a few visits.
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. A new University of Michigan study examines why.
Radiation therapy to the breast can cause some side effects. Some begin during treatment. Others may occur months or even years later.
This information will help you prepare for radiation therapy to your breast or chest wall, including what to expect before, during, and after your treatment. You will also learn about side effects and how to care for yourself during your treatment. Read through this resource before you start radiation therapy. Use it as a reference in the days leading up to your treatments so that you can prepare as much as possible.