Radiation therapy, or radiotherapy, is used to treat breast cancer by killing cancer cells in an area that has been specifically targeted. (Adjacent normal cells are better able to repair the damage caused by radiation than are cancer cells.)
Radiation is primarily used in the following settings:
Multiple studies have shown that women who received radiation had a significant reduction of local or distant recurrence when compared to those who did not undergo radiation. They also found a significant reduction in the risk of death by breast cancer in those treated with radiotherapy. Thus, the patients who had radiotherapy when radiotherapy was indicated did better than those who did not receive radiotherapy. This is why radiation is included as part of the therapy for breast cancer.
Radiotherapy can be administered in two ways:
There are lifetime limits to the amount of radiation that can be given to a specific area of the body and this limit will determine the dosage of the radiation therapy. The physician who delivers radiation therapy (the radiation oncologist) will work with the breast surgeon and patient to determine the most suitable treatment
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