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What to expect from breast cancer radiation therapy


Radiation therapy is carried out using a large machine called a linear accelerator. The machine delivers a minute quantity of high-energy radiation which kills the cancerous cells. The radiation causes only the 

absolute minimal damage to skin tissue and stop cancer cells from reproducing. Radiation therapy has shown to vastly improve survival rates in women with breast cancer. Radiation therapy can be used for several reasons when related to breast cancer. Following a mastectomy or lumpectomy, the treatment can be used in conjunction with chemotherapy to lower the risk of cancer growing back.

Radiation therapy can also be used if a surgeon feels that the removal of a tumor isn't entirely in the best interests of a patient's health. Treatment can also help if cancer has spread into the bone structure or the brain, and can also be used if the cancer actually reoccurs.

The treatment process when undergoing radiation therapy is painless, but some patient can experience side effects. These may include dryness and discomfort of the skin that can be treated by your general practice if it occurs. However, it can take up to twelve months for the effects to completely heal. There is also the inevitable side effect of fatigue which normally happens around a fortnight into treatment. Fatigue can last up to a month after treatment is completed, but can be countered by getting more rest and having early nights.

Blood will need to be checked regularly for reduced counts and some women will experience a sore mouth or throat if treatment is carried out around that particular area. There are also significant lifestyle changes that may have to be made while radiation therapy is taking place. Rest is imperative and close attention needs to be paid to a healthy diet.

Regular blood tests will be necessary, and visits to the doctor should be made if unusual symptoms such as coughing, sweating, fever or pain occur. The affected area should receive extra care and be treated gently. Tight clothes around the area should be avoided to prevent rubbing. It's also important to moisturize the affected area after radiation therapy is complete and the treated area must also be kept out of direct sunlight.

The advances in radiation therapy means that long-term side effects are quite rare but they do still occur. Rib fractures, lung inflammation, damage to the heart, scarring and the association of other tumors like sarcoma are all possible but not as common as they once were.

To learn much more about the different types of breast cancer radiation therapy visit where you'll find this and much more, including the effects of radiation therapy, and other radiation treatments.

Source: American Cancer Society

Note: Some statements in this article may not be approved by the FDA. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional medical advice.

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