Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is a common form of breast cancer treatment using high-energy X-rays to kill cancerous cells. Unlike chemotherapy, radiation therapy is considered a local treatment. Only cancer cells in the area where the radiation is delivered are killed. If cancer cells exist outside the area where radiation is targeted, the radiation does not impact them.

There are two primary forms of radiation therapy used in breast cancer treatment:

  • External beam radiation: This type of radiation focuses a high-energy X-ray or electron beams at specific points on your body where the tumor is located.
  • Internal radiation (brachytherapy): This treatment uses sealed containers of radioactive material placed close to or inside the tumor. Internal radiation therapy delivers a higher dose of radiation directly to the cancerous area than external radiation treatments.

Your physician may recommend radiation therapy in the following cases:

  • After breast surgery, which may reduce the risk of recurrence.
  • If cancer metastasized to other areas of the body.

The Radiation Treatment Process

To begin your radiation treatment, you will meet your physician and radiation therapy team. Every part of your treatment is planned in advance. We’ll do imaging scans and virtual simulations to determine the correct positions on your body for treatment. Once those have been determined, small reference marks may be made on your skin to ensure correct positioning at each treatment session.

The number of treatments and the length of each session depend on how advanced your breast cancer is and the type of treatment prescribed.