Radiation therapy is a treatment which uses high-powered beams of energy, such as X-rays, to destroy cancer cells. After surgery, this treatment may be used to kill any remaining cancer cells in the breast, chest wall or underarm area. Radiation may also be used after a mastectomy in cases where cancer was found in the lymph nodes.
Radiation therapies available through Lakeshore Area Radiation Oncology Center include:
External beam radiation
—This is the most common type of radiation therapy used for breast cancer treatment. Much like an X-ray, the procedure is completely painless. A large machine aims the energy beams at the affected area, and each treatment lasts only a few minutes. Radiation therapy is typically given 5 days a week for five to six weeks.
—Also known as internal radiation or implant therapy, this type of radiation therapy is performed by placing radioactive seeds or pellets inside your breast tissue next to the cancer. It may be used alone or in conjunction with external beam radiation.
Common side effects of radiation therapy may include:
- red, sunburn-like rash
- minor swelling.
Rare side effects of radiation therapy may include:
- arm swelling (lymphedema)
- broken ribs
- damage to the lungs or nerves.