Breast Cancer and Radiation Therapy
People are always wondering if every breast cancer patient needs radiation therapy, which is one of the most effective treatment for any stage of breast cancer. Let us explore radiation therapy to make informed decision in treatment choice.
Radiation Therapy and Stages of Breast Cancer
Any stage of breast cancer can be treated with radiation therapy.
Breast Conserving Surgery
Radiation in combination with breast conserving surgery can significantly reduce the risk of recurrence compared to surgery along. Studies have shown that there is no difference in survival rate between this combination of radiation and breast conserving surgery compared to modified radical mastectomy. Thus, doctor will recommend this combination to almost all patients who received breast conserving surgery.
Modified Radical Mastectomy
Patients who have early stage breast cancer that require mastectomy mostly do not require additional radiation therapy. However, if the tumor is larger than 5 centimeters, has spread to lymph nodes in the armpit, has positive margin upon histological examination, or surgical margin is less than 1 millimeter, additional treatment with radiation will be considered. This is because there is a high risk of recurrence. Thus, radiation to the breast and/or lymph node can reduce the risk of recurrence.
Metastatic Breast Cancer
Unfortunately, patients with metastatic breast cancer cannot be completely cured. The objective of treatment is to prolong survival by controlling the condition to alleviate symptoms and preserve the quality of life. Most of the time, radiation therapy will play a role in reducing pain, bleeding, impingement on nearby tissues or blood vessels, and prevention of bone fracture or collapse.
Loco – Regional Recurrence
Patients how have recurrence in the breast or chest wall can have additional surgery to remove the remains. They are eligible for surgery and radiation if they have not received radiation previously. In the case of prior radiation therapy, considerations of benefits and safety must be reviewed beforehand. For patients who do not qualify for surgery, treatment choice includes radiation or systemic treatment under the discretion of the oncologist.
Nevertheless, radiation therapy plays an important role in the treatment of breast cancer and can reduce the risk of recurrence. With advances in medical technology, dosage of radiation can be reduced to minimize effects on nearby tissues and organs. Breast cancer patients can have an ease of mind when considering this treatment option in the hopes of gaining better quality of life.