Radiotherapy is commonly used as part of breast cancer treatment. It is routinely used as part of breast conserving treatment, but is sometimes needed after mastectomy also.

Radiotherapy is focused x-rays which can be directed on the chest and or the lymph nodes. Treatment reduces the risk of the cancer coming back in the breast or chest wall and lymph nodes. Treatment only takes a few minutes; but is given each week day over a three to six week period.

Radiation is given by specialist doctors called radiation oncologists. Dr Adams will refer you to a local radiation oncologist if required, who will explain in detail their treatment and what to expect. In patients who do not require chemotherapy, radiation is started a few weeks after surgery. In those requiring chemotherapy, chemotherapy occurs first with radiotherapy occurring after the chemotherapy is complete.

Radiotherapy with breast conservation
Invasive cancer
Lumpectomy for invasive breast cancer always requires postoperative radiotherapy.
For DCIS, radiotherapy after lumpectomy may or may not be required. This depends on the many features of the histology report, but the most important is the grade of the DCIS. Radiotherapy is usually recommended for patients having lumpectomy for high grade DCIS

Radiotherapy after mastectomy
Radiotherapy is not always required after mastectomy. It is used in some cases where there is an increased risk of the cancer coming back on the chest wall or lymph nodes

These include:

  • Large tumours
  • Patients with many involved lymph nodes
  • Tumours involving the skin or muscles

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