Radiation therapy is a type of treatment used to treat breast cancer. It involves the use of high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells of the breast 3 to 4 weeks after a breast surgery. Radiation therapy mainly consists of 3 types of procedures:
- External beam radiation: This technique is a traditional method that uses a large machine which delivers highly focused beams of radiation to the targeted cells for about 2 to 3 minutes. The treatment involves multiple sittings of about 5 days a week for 5 to 6 weeks.
- Internal radiation (brachytherapy): In this treatment, a radioactive liquid is injected at the origin of the breast cancer cells with the help of needles, wires or catheters in order to kill any remaining cancer cells. Sometimes, an implantable device which targets radiation to the tumor bed is inserted into your breast tissue during or shortly after the surgery.
The type of radiation therapy suited for you is usually decided by your oncologist. Like many therapeutic procedures, radiotherapy may have side effects such as heaviness in the breasts, redness or discoloration of the breasts, itching or skin irritation of the targeted area, and fatigue.