Why Radiation Treatment for Breast Cancer is Sometimes Recommended

Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer may find themselves a little surprised if their doctor recommends the use of radiation treatment in conjunction with other therapies. After all, this form of cancer is most commonly associated with chemotherapy and surgery. There are times, however, where radiation treatment for breast cancer is advised to help ensure the best possible outcome.

Radiation treatment for breast cancer is advised when there is a need to take extra measures to help ensure all cancer cells are eradicated. This form of therapy will generally involve highly targeted doses of external beam radiation. The treatment will be designed to irradiate the margins where breast cancer cells may still be present following surgery or other interventions. The number of treatments recommended will vary based on the particulars of a patient’s case. Courtesy of advances in external beam radiation, women will find treatments today are highly targeted, which means as much healthy tissue as possible is spared.

Radiation treatment for breast cancer is generally advised in these circumstances:

  • If breast-conserving surgery is performed – Mastectomies are not always indicated or even advised. If a lumpectomy is performed, however, many women will find their doctors strongly recommend radiation after surgery. This will be especially so if the tumor removed was larger than 2 cm or lymph node spread has been detected. Age may also play a role in the recommendation.
  • If high risk for recurrence is present even after a mastectomy – In some cases, women who undergo mastectomies may be advised to have radiation treatments. This will hinge on the risk factors for recurrence, such as genetic mutations and evidence of spread. Age may also play a role in the recommendation.

Radiation treatment for breast cancer is sometimes recommended to help increase the likelihood of a positive outcome. It may also lower the risk for recurrence in some cases. If this form of treatment has been recommended, women should discuss the benefits, potential risks and what to expect with their doctors.

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