Why is breast cancer radiation a part of many treatment programs? The primary treatment protocols for breast cancer are surgery and chemotherapy. However, for cancers found in a localized area of the breast, radiation therapy is often part of the treatment program as well. A lumpectomy or partial mastectomy keeps much of the breast tissue intact. To make sure the breast does not have any lingering cancer cells, a round of radiation is often a preventative measure to ensure the cancer does not return. In rare cases where the patient or doctor finds tumors early, radiation may be the only treatment required.

What is external beam radiotherapy? This form of breast cancer radiation comes from the outside in. The radiation treatment technician places the beam source close to the breast tissue right above the area for treatment. When the technician turns on the radiation beam, it penetrates the skin and goes to work on the tissues surrounding the cancerous area. This radiation is very local and great care is necessary to ensure the best treatment without damaging healthy tissue. During the treatment, patients have to wear protection over the skin area to protect it from sunlight.

What is internal radiotherapy? In contrast to external beam radiotherapy, internal radiotherapy takes the radiation directly inside. During the initial surgery to remove the tumor, the doctor places a catheter into the body that leads into the area of the cancer. During the radiation therapy, the doctor gives the patient a local anesthetic. The doctor then inserts a probe which emits radiation into the cancerous area. This form of breast cancer radiation is less common than the external beam variety. However, by bringing the radiation directly to the cancerous area, it helps minimize damage to healthy tissues.

What else do you need to know about breast cancer radiation? A typical round of radiation will go five days a week for up to six consecutive weeks. The radiation therapy itself is usually painless. Technology has made these sessions relatively quick also.

Side effects of the therapy vary from patient to patient. Some of the common ones reported include fatigue, skin changes in the irradiated area, diarrhea, and trouble eating. The patient also becomes more susceptible to infections and should stay away from family and friends with communicable illness. Modern radiation therapy is very precise. With breast cancer, most patients do not experience hair loss and very little nausea.

Raphaelo is medical student; he enjoys talking about medical related topics. To learn more about breast cancer radiation, please visit http://www.breastcancerradiation.us.

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