If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, you may wonder if radiation is an option for you.
Radiation is an important pillar of treatment for breast cancer and has never been safer when designed by an experienced team with state of the art technology. Radiation will be part of a standard treatment plan after breast conserving surgery (also called lumpectomy or partial mastectomy). With the addition of radiation to the breast as an insurance policy, patients will do just as well as those undergoing mastectomy. Even after a mastectomy there are indications when radiation to the chest wall and nodes are recommended for best outcome. After a lumpectomy, radiation to the whole breast is the current gold standard.
How does radiation actually work?
Radiation works by aiming it at a target. Free radicals are produced which kill cancer cells, while normal cells have the capability to repair the damage. Cancer cells don’t.
Having the most advanced technology available to precisely plan and deliver radiation to the target will protect healthy tissue for optimal outcomes and the best possible cosmetic result.
How can I make sure I receive the best radiation?
The radiation oncologists treating you should be part of an interdisciplinary team. I, for example, work closely with the patient, the breast surgeons and the medical oncologists. I then design a personalized radiation plan, tailored to the unique characteristics of the tumor and each patient’s personal preferences. The more personalized the treatment the better.
To allow patients to feel their best during and after treatment, I often work with physical therapists, naturopaths, and other support staff (social worker, dietitian etc).
What type of radiation treatment do I need?
Radiation options after a breast conserving surgery can be very confusing. Here is a list that may help you understand the different options: