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Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer

Radiation has been used to treat breast cancer for decades. Even patients who undergo a lumpectomy to treat their breast cancer ultimately receive radiotherapy as adjuvant therapy.

A course of standard radiation therapy for breast cancer typically includes five days of treatment a week for six weeks. Each session generally lasts about 10 to 15 minutes and requires the patient to lie on a special treatment table.

Our Radiation Therapy Approaches

Tangential fields technique:

The target (either breast tissue or chest wall) is treated by a pair of tangential fields to minimize the dose received by the underlying lung tissue.

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT):

The intensity of the radiation can be modulated during treatment in order to focus on the tumor area and spare adjacent normal tissue. This technique can provide a uniform dose of radiation to the breast and decrease acute and late reactions.

Active breath-hold technique: deep inspiration breath-hold (DIBH) technique

For patients with cancer in their left breast, a treatment dose of radiation can be delivered utilizing a deep inspiration breath-hold technique to reduce the dose received by the cardiac and left anterior descending coronary artery (LAD).

Proton therapy

Proton therapy with unique dose distribution can dramatically reduce radiation dosage to the heart, lungs and surrounding normal tissue in patients with locally advanced left breast cancer and potentially decrease the risk of side effects from radiation.

Article author: Dr. Ping-Ching Pai