Radiation Therapy and Breast Cancer
Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, OSW-C Program Manager, Oncology Social Work
SEPTEMBER 11, 2017
As many of you know, radiation therapy is often part of the treatment plan for early breast cancer. Paired with a wide excision/lumpectomy or after a mastectomy, radiation can destroy any remaining cancer cells in or near the breast. Radiation is also used in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. Then, it is commonly directed at lesions in bones or, as targeted therapy/CyberKnife, in other organs or the brain.
If you are living with some other kind of cancer, this still applies. After all, radiation that is aimed at the prostate or leg or wherever is still radiation with the same side effects and concerns. Radiation side effects are localized and related specifically to the targeted body part. For breast radiation, the side effects are generally limited to skin burning and fatigue. People who have, for example, radiation directed at the throat have a lot more trouble as the internal burning can make swallowing impossible. Women who receive radiation for gynecologic cancers often have stomach and bowel issues, etc.