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NCCN Guidelines for Patients


Breast Cancer - Early-Stage


, Version 1.2016


Radiation therapy

58 Treatment options

58 After lumpectomy

60 After mastectomy

62 What to expect

64 Review

Many women with stage I or II breast

cancer will receive radiation therapy.

Part 5 explains who needs radiation

therapy and which body sites should

be treated. It also provides some

details on what to expect during

radiation therapy.

Radiation therapy is given to stop the return of cancer

within the breast, nearby sites, or both. Doctors

decide which sites need radiation based mainly on

how many axillary lymph nodes have cancer. The

more nodes with cancer the farther they think the

cancer has spread.

Radiation therapy is usually given after chemotherapy

is finished. It is okay to take HER2 inhibitors during

radiation therapy. If you didn’t have chemotherapy,

radiation therapy follows surgery. If you are pregnant,

don't start radiation until after your baby is born.

Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to treat

cancer. The rays damage the DNA in cells. This either

kills the cancer cells or stops new cancer cells from

being made. Radiation can also harm normal cells.