When you are diagnosed with breast cancer and it is in the early stages, you may wonder what you can and should do in regards to treatment. One of the most common treatments available for breast cancer is radiation therapy. Get to know more about radiation therapy so that you can better understand this treatment option and so that you and your oncologist can develop the best possible care and treatment program for you and your needs.
What Is Radiation Therapy?
Radiation therapy is a treatment for cancer that uses energy waves, specifically a form of x-rays. This high-powered energy damages the DNA in cancer cells, causing them to die off. This can stop cancer from spreading as well as shrink and reduce the size of cancerous tumors.
Is Radiation Therapy Painful?
Many people assume that all treatment for their breast cancer must be painful. However, this is not the case when it comes to radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is a painless procedure that requires no anesthesia during treatment. The x-rays (radiation energy) are aimed at the areas of your body where you have tumors or groups of cancerous cells, and you will be able to lie on the treatment table without feeling anything.
What Are The Side Effects Of Radiation Therapy?
Because the radiation that enters your body cannot be completely controlled, it will have an effect on the healthy cells in your body as well as the cancerous ones. Because of this, there are some side effects that you may experience as a result of the treatments. Fatigue and nausea are the most common side effects as the body reacts to the high levels of energy.
Some people also experience hair loss as well as skin irritation in the areas where the radiation entered the body. However, not all patients experience these side effects, and their occurrence and intensity depend on the levels of radiation required to treat the cancer. In the case of breast cancer in the early stages, most side effects are relatively mild.
Can You Delay Radiation Therapy?
Many patients with breast cancer in the early stages choose to have the cancerous mass in their breast (or the entire breast) removed surgically. Doctors recommend that this treatment be accompanied by radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy to ensure that all cancerous cells in the area have been eradicated.
However, many women prefer to delay radiation therapy and other cancer treatments for a variety of reasons. Some may even opt to not go through radiation therapy at all. However, both delaying and avoiding radiation therapy after breast cancer surgery increases the risk of cancer recurrence in the same breast exponentially, according to recent research. It is better to get the radiation therapy treatments immediately following surgery than to wait and find out your cancer has come back and progressed in the meantime.
Now that you know more about radiation therapy for breast cancer, you can be sure that you and your oncologist are on the same page and develop the right breast cancer treatment program for you.Share
13 June 2016
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