Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  66 / 114 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 66 / 114 Next Page
Page Background


NCCN Guidelines for Patients


Breast Cancer - Early-Stage


, Version 1.2016


Radiation therapy

What to expect

What to expect

External radiation

The most common type of radiation therapy used

for breast cancer is EBRT (








herapy). This type of therapy uses a machine outside

the body to deliver radiation. 3D machines deliver

beams matched to the shape of the tumor. IMRT









herapy) uses small

radiation beams of different strengths based on the

thickness of the tissue.

A planning (simulation) session is needed before

treatment. During simulation, pictures of the tumor

site should be made with CT. Your doctors will use the

pictures to decide the radiation dose and to shape the

radiation beams. Beams are shaped with computer

software and hardware added to the radiation

machine. The beams are shaped so that normal

tissue is spared. Radiation beams will be aimed at the

tumor site with help from ink marks or tiny tattoos on

your skin.

There are other methods that can be used to spare

normal tissue. Moreover, there are ways to protect

your heart if radiation will be given in that area.

Ask your doctor what methods will be used for your

treatment. Some methods are:

• Directing the beam not toward the heart,

• Lying face down during treatment,

• Holding your breath at times during treatment,

• Use of devices that keep you from moving

during treatment,

• Radiation machines that give treatment only

when the tumor is in the right spot, and

• Radiation machines that deliver very precise

radiation beams.

During treatment, you will be alone while a technician

operates the machine from a nearby room. He or

she will be able to see, hear, and speak with you

at all times. As treatment is given, you may hear

noises. A session can take between 15 to 30 minutes.

Radiation therapy is often given up to 5 days a week

for 5 to 7 weeks but may be done quicker for some


Internal radiation

Some women receive a boost toward the end of their

radiation therapy. The boost may be given with EBRT

or by internal radiation. Internal radiation is also called

brachytherapy. It involves placing radioactive seeds in

the area where the tumor was. The seeds are placed

using multiple small tubes (catheters) or one small

catheter with a balloon at its end.

For multiple-catheter boost radiation, the seeds may

remain in your body for minutes or days. If the seeds

release a small dose of radiation, the catheters and

seeds are left in your body for a few days. During

this time, you must stay in the hospital. If the seeds

release high doses of radiation, the seeds will remain

in your body for 10 minutes. However, radiation is

given twice a day for 5 days.