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Radiation therapy has a long history in the treatment of breast cancer. It is used in most patients undergoing breast conservation. Breast conservation is the treatment of choice for most early stage breast patients in the U.S. today.
Radiation therapy is also used in patients following mastectomy (breast removal) if certain "high risk" features are identified.
In several clinical trials, radiation has been found to not only reduce the chance of local recurrence, but also improve patient survival.
These techniques include:
Whole breast radiation therapy (fig 1)
Partial breast irradiation (PBI) (fig 2&3)
Side effects are usually temporary and usually go away shortly after treatment ends. Below is a list of possible side effects you might notice during your treatment. However, ask your doctor what you can expect from your specific treatment.
Rarely, new tumors can be caused by radiation, but in breast cancer the benefits of treatment should outweigh the risks. Many factors affect your risk for these side effects.
Please talk to your radiation oncologist to learn more about how likely these side effects may be for you.