If you've been diagnosed with breast cancer, your oncologist may recommend a lumpectomy followed by radiation treatments. The lumpectomy removes the cancerous tumor while the radiation destroys stray cancer cells left behind. By undergoing this treatment combination, you may be able to avoid a mastectomy. There are two approaches to taking radiation treatments. Here is a look at how they work and how they differ:
External Beam Radiation
External beam radiation treatments are given by a machine that points the radiation over your breast. It's called external beam radiation because the source of the radiation is outside of your body. These radiation treatments are usually taken daily except for weekends, and you'll probably need to take them over a period of several weeks.
The drawback to external beam radiation therapy is that it exposes healthy parts of your body to radiation, and they might be damaged by it. This includes your heart and lungs. Another drawback to this type of radiation treatments is that they require a large investment of time, which may be challenging to arrange due to other responsibilities, poor health, or travel arrangements.
Brachytherapy Treatments For Breast Cancer
Brachytherapy is another type of radiation therapy that gets the same results as external beam radiation, but it doesn't require as many treatments, so there is no need for a prolonged time commitment. This type of radiation is released into your body. The oncologist places radioactive seeds right by the cancer in your breast. By doing this, a higher dose of radiation can be delivered and less of it spills over and affects healthy tissue.
You might be able to complete brachytherapy treatments in just five days or sooner. The doctor inserts a tube into your breast and then inserts radioactive seeds into the tube for a precise amount of time and then removes them. Depending on the way the seeds are implanted, you might need to stay in the hospital until the treatment is complete, or you might go home between sessions.
Not everyone with breast cancer is a good candidate for brachytherapy. It depends on the size of the cancer, how much it has spread, the location of the cancer in your breast, and the type of breast cancer. If you're a good candidate, your oncologist will help you decide which form of radiation you want to take. Since they are both effective, the deciding factor may be what you feel most comfortable undergoing.
Contact a medical center like Oncology MDS for more information and assistance.