Jumat, 07 Januari 2011

Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer

Radiation can kill cancer cells or reduce the size of breast tumors.

Radiation therapy is treatment with high-energy radiation (eg X rays) to kill cancer cells or tumor tissue shrinks. This treatment can be used to cancer cells in the breast, chest wall or armpit left to kill after breast-conserving surgery. Radiation therapy can be given in two main ways.

External-beam radiation

Very often, external radiation therapy used to treat breast cancer. It is much more like an X-ray, but for a long time. Radiation therapy can be used to eliminate remaining cancer cells in the breast, chest wall or underarm after surgery or, less commonly, to reduce the tumor size before surgery.

Treatment is usually five days a week (Monday to Friday) in an outpatient. It begins one month after the surgery and takes about six weeks. Each treatment takes a few minutes. The treatment itself is painless. Ink marks or small tattoos are placed on the skin. This will focus as a guide for the radiation in the field of law can be used. You may want to talk to your medical team whether the marks are permanent. Is used in combination with chemotherapy, radiation therapy is administered after chemotherapy ends.

Accelerated–breast irradiation: Newer methods now being studied involve giving radiation over a much shorter period of time. This is called accelerated radiation. In one approach that works as well as standard radiation, larger doses of radiation are given each day, but the course of radiation is shortened to only three weeks. Other approaches can shorten radiation to five days or even just one large dose of radiation given in the operating room right after lumpectomy (before the skin is closed). Many forms of accelerated radiation are thought of as experimental at this time.

Possible side effects of external–beam radiation: The main side effects of radiation are swelling and heaviness in the breast, sunburn-like changes in the skin over the treated area, and feeling very tired. The changes to the breast tissue and skin usually go away in 6 to 12 months. In some women, the breast gets smaller and firmer after radiation therapy. Women who have had breast radiation may have problems breast feeding later on. Radiation to the breast can also sometimes damage some of the nerves to the arm. This is called brachial plexopathy and can lead to numbness, pain, and weakness in the shoulder, arm and hand. Radiation of axillary lymph nodes also can cause long-term arm swelling called lymphedema.


Another way to give radiation is to place radioactive seeds (pellets) into the breast tissue next to the cancer. This is called brachytherapy. It may be given along with external beam radiation to add an extra "boost" of radiation to the tumor. It is also being studied as the only source of radiation. So far the results have been good, but more study is needed before brachytherapy alone can be used as standard treatment.

One method of brachytherapy being used is called Mammosite®. It uses a balloon attached to a thin tube. The balloon is put into the lumpectomy space and filled with salt water. Radioactivity is added through the tube. The radioactive material is added and removed twice a day (on an outpatient basis) for five days. Then the balloon is deflated and removed.

This type of brachytherapy can also be thought of as a form of accelerated breast irradiation. At this time there are no studies comparing outcomes with this type of radiation directly with standard external beam radiation. It is not known if the long-term outcomes will be as good

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