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It Is All About Breast Cancer


Types of Treatments

Radiation Treatment
You may also be offered radiation therapy. Radiation therapy uses x-rays to kill
cancer cells that remain where the lump formed in your breast. Radiation therapy involves daily brief, painless treatments for six to seven weeks. If you have side effects, they'll most likely be mild fatigue, a slight redness at the radiation site, or a change in the color of your areola, nipple, or breast. Before you go for any treatments, you'll go through a dry run called a simulation. You'll have to lie still on your back. Small, permanent marks (tattoos) will be placed on your skin. These marks allow the radiation technologists to aim the therapy beam precisely.

As you lie with your hand above your head (the hand on the same side of your body as the cancer), a specialist will measure your breast to decide the right amount of therapy for you. Many women find that the simulation process is emotionally draining. You might try to prepare for the session by practicing relaxation techniques or by praying. You might bring a tape player to the session to listen to music or to an audiobook. During the last five days of radiation treatment, some women will have a procedure called boost. The boost is an extra bit of radiation directly aimed at the original tumor site. During this time, a different kind of radiation machine is used. In this kind of machine, electron beams (a special kind of radiation particle that gives off energy that doesn't penetrate very deeply) are directed at the original tumor site. The area of boost may become a little red, similar to a sunburn. If you experience any pain or difficulty during this procedure, let your radiation oncology nurse or doctor know IMMEDIATELY. The most common side effects of radiation therapy are fatigue and skin changes, such as redness, dryness, and peeling. Your radiation oncology nurse will suggest ways for you to take care of these symptoms. These expected side effects of treatment will gradually disappear after you finish the course of radiation.