Radiation therapy is a treatment that is designed to rid the body of any left over tumor cells after the removal of the breast cancer. It is used routinely after lumpectomy. It is also used after mastectomy for large cancers in cases where the tumor extends close to the edge of removed breast.
Radiation therapy is a beam of high energy particles that when properly adjusted can destroy cancer cells without causing damage to normal cells. A radiation treatment is entirely painless. In fact, having a radiation treatment is much like having a chest x-ray in that it is a beam of energy that goes through the body. The patient is not even aware that anything is happening. Although radiation is painless and the treatment takes only a few minutes to perform, it does cause some side effects. The most common side effect is skin redness and sometimes blistering (much like a sun burn). Major side effects are rare, but many women do experience fatigue at the end of a course of treatment. Fortunately, radiation is not associated with nausea or hair loss.
We work closely within a multi-disciplinarian approach with your radiation oncologist.