Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer

We use beams of intense energy to shrink and kill breast cancer cells.

Your breast cancer treatment plan likely will include multiple therapies depending on your specific health needs and preferences. One of these is radiation therapy.

Radiation therapy can reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence by about 70 percent. It’s often used after breast cancer surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells in the chest and armpit areas. It also can be combined with other breast cancer treatments such as chemotherapy.

Benefits of breast cancer radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses beams of intense energy to shrink and kill breast cancer tumors. This energy can come from X-rays or gamma rays (high-frequency electromagnetic radiation), or charged particles (such as electrons, protons, or neutrons). Targeted radiation therapy is an effective way to destroy cancer cells without harming nearby tissue or organs. Other benefits include:

  • Improved outcomes
  • Less likelihood of recurrence
  • Shorter treatment time

Radiation therapy plays an important role in breast conservation therapy. In some cases, it can eliminate the need for a mastectomy. One example of this is when we perform a sentinel node biopsy followed by radiation therapy to the breasts. Clinical studies have shown the same cure rates for breast conservation therapy and mastectomy.

Administering radiation therapy

Our radiation oncologists use sophisticated equipment to deliver radiation therapy in one of three ways:

  • Brachytherapy: Radiation seeds inserted into the body during or after breast cancer surgery release radiation over a period of time.
  • External radiation: A machine in a radiation oncology suite delivers radiation from outside the body.
  • Internal radiation: In this newer method, we inject small amounts of a liquid radioactive substance into specific sites within the body.

Types of breast cancer radiation therapy

Your radiation treatment plan will be targeted to your specific breast cancer. Our radiation oncologists offer the latest in radiation breast cancer treatment therapies, including:

  • Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT): uses imaging technology such as X-rays and CT scans to precisely direct radiation beams onto the tumor
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT): delivers radiation using proton beams that conform to the shape of the tumor
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