Radiation therapy is one of the most effective and used type of treatment for breast cancer patients and in this treatment method, high energy rays or particles are used to destroy the cancer cells.
Radiation is given to the breast after the breast-conserving surgery so as to lower or reduce the chance that the cancer will reappear in the lymph node or in the breast.
In some cases of breast cancer, radiation is also used to treat the cancer which has spread to the nearby areas such as brain or the bones. There are two types of radiation therapy for breast cancer patients and their details have been given as follows
External Beam Radiation:
This method or radiation therapy is the most common types of treatment to treat patients suffering from breast cancer and in this, radiation is given through a machine which is placed outside the body of the area which is affected by cancer.
This form of radiation therapy is not given to the breast cancer patients until the tissues have healed up which takes about a month or longer.
Before the start of this treatment, the radiation team takes several measurements to determine the angles etc from which radiation is to be given. This procedure is painless and each session takes only a few minutes.
Brachytherapy (internal radiation):
This is the second form of radiation therapy and is a method in which radioactive pellets or seeds are placed into the breast tissue where the cancer is.
There are many factors such as size of the tumor or the location of the cancer which might decide whether the patient has to be given Brachytherapy or not. There many different types of Brachytherapy treatment methods and they are given as follows:
- Interstitial Brachytherapy: in this method of internal radiation therapy, many small and hollow tubes which are called catheters are inserted into the breast near the area where cancer is has been removed from. This is an old method of Brachytherapy and is not used a lot these days.
- Intracavity Brachytherapy: this is the most common type of Brachytherapy radiation therapy and is used more than the other methods. In this method, a device is inserted into the space which has been left from BCS and is left inside until the treatment procedure is completed. Some side effects of this method include redness, breast pain, bruising, breakdown of an area of fat tissue and even infection.