At Texas Breast Care, we partner with highly qualified radiation oncologists at Choice Cancer Care to determine the best way to administer radiation and minimize any side effects. The patient’s overall wellbeing is our top priority.
Radiation oncology involves treating breast cancer with high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. Some women undergo radiation alongside other treatment options such as surgery and chemotherapy.
Radiation oncology works in situations such as:
- When cancer has spread to other areas of the body
- After a mastectomy when the disease is about 5 inches and has spread to lymph nodes, skin, or muscle
- After a breast-conserving surgery to lower the chance of recurrence
Radiation therapy can be administered as brachytherapy or external radiation therapy (EBRT).
External Beam Radiation
External beam radiation therapy is the most commonly used treatment in breast cancer patients. During the procedure, a machine is used to direct radiation rays to the cancer location.
If you underwent a mastectomy and your lymph nodes are free from cancer, radiation can be directed to the mastectomy scar, chest wall, and places where cancer cells may have remained after surgery.
If you’ve had breast-conserving surgery, you can undergo whole breast radiation and more to the tumor bed to prevent a recurrence. However, radiation directed to the tumor bed is always low-dose.
If cancer formed in the axillary lymph nodes, radiation will be aimed at the area. In some cases, the supraclavicular lymph nodes (nodes above the collarbone) and internal mammary lymph nodes (those beneath the breast bone in the middle of the chest) will also undergo treatment.
During brachytherapy, a surgeon places a device with radioactive seeds in the breast tissue of the tumor bed (the area where cancer has been surgically removed). In individual patients who have undergone breast-conserving surgery, brachytherapy can be used as partial breast irradiation. However, this will depend on the size and location of the tumor, among other factors.
Brachytherapy includes intra cavity brachytherapy. The procedure involves the placement of a radioactive device in the space left after breast-conserving surgery. The device stays there until the treatment is complete. Interstitial brachytherapy is an approach that uses catheters with radioactive pellets to treat a tumor bed.
Both external beam radiation and brachytherapy are given to a patient after undergoing and healing from breast conservation surgery.