ACCESSIBILITY Accessibility
Procedures & Therapy
Breast Cancer

When you are diagnosed with breast with breast cancer, you will be treated by a multi-disciplinary team of physicians including surgeons, medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists. ARM radiation oncologists are all highly trained in treating breast cancer. We utilize state of the art techniques including 3D conformal radiation therapy, IMRT, and brachytherapy.

Radiation Therapy For DCIS and Early Stage Breast Cancer

Most women with breast cancer are diagnosed at an early stage and can be treated surgically with a lumpectomy. Following lumpectomy, patients may also be advised to receive chemotherapy or endocrine therapies. However, nearly all women that are treated with lumpectomy will require radiation to decrease the possibility of a recurrence in that breast. Radiation has been shown to decrease the rate of recurrence from 25-35% to 5-14%. This decrease in recurrence has also led to an increase in overall survival of approximately 5%. Typically, patients are treated daily over the course of 3-7 weeks. The side effects of treatment can include fatigue, reddening of the skin like a sunburn, peeling, and sometimes pain. Your ARM radiation oncologist will see you weekly during treatment to address concerns and manage side effects. Several weeks to months after treatment, patients can experience late side effects including thickening of the skin of the breast, continued skin discoloration, weakening of the ribs making them more prone to fracture, scarring of lung tissue, a slightly higher risk of coronary artery disease, and a very small risk of radiation-induced cancer in the treated area. Your ARM radiation oncologist will follow you for months to years to ensure there is no recurrence and to manage any late side effects that may occur.

Radiation Therapy For Advanced Breast Cancer

Women with advanced cancer may require modified radical mastectomies as part of their treatment plan (removal of the breast tissue and axillary contents). Although in some cases, radiation may not be needed, certain women with larger tumors and positive lymph nodes may require treatment. Radiation has been shown to decrease the rate of recurrence from 40-50% to 10-15%. This decrease in recurrence has also led to an increase in overall survival of approximately 10%. Typically, patients are treated daily over the course of 6-7 weeks. The side effects during treatment can include fatigue, reddening of the skin like a sunburn, peeling, and sometimes pain. Your ARM radiation oncologist will see you weekly during treatment to address concerns and manage side effects. Several weeks to months after treatment, patients can experience late side effects including thickening of the skin of the chest wall, continued discoloration, weakening of the ribs making them more prone to fracture, scarring of lung tissue, a slightly higher risk of coronary artery disease, and a very small risk of radiation-induced cancer in the treated area. Your ARM radiation oncologist will follow you for months to years to ensure there is no recurrence and to manage any late side effects that may occur.

3D-CRT and IMRT for Breast Cancer

Due to advances in technology and clinical knowledge, ARM radiation oncologists are able to use the most modern techniques to treat women with breast cancer. 3D-CRT and IMRT allow patients to receive high doses of radiation therapy while decreasing the possibilities of side effects by reducing the dose to the nearby structures and normal tissues. Our physicians are experts in both modalities and, at your consultation, will discuss which treatment is right for you.

Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation For Breast Cancer

In certain patients, the risk for recurrence in the breast is largely limited to the area closest to where the tumor was removed. Because of this, clinicians have developed techniques to treat just that portion of the breast, rather than the entire breast. This allows for a lesser dose to normal tissues and a less chance of toxicity to the skin/soft tissues, resulting in a better cosmetic outcome. Also, the treatments are delivered over the course of 1 week, rather than 6-7 weeks. You may be a candidate for this type of treatment (Mammosite, Contura, or SAVI), and your ARM radiation oncologist can discuss these options with you at your consultation.

Radiation Safety

Ensuring your safety during radiation therapy is of the utmost importance at the cancer centers staffed by ARM radiation oncologist. Our medical physicists work closely with your radiation oncologist to meticulously plan radiation dosage before your treatment. Medical physicists are also present in the operating room during brachytherapy procedures to ensure that radiation is delivered correctly and in the optimal locations.

ARM has implemented extensive safety protocols to manage our radiation therapy program. Redundancy is built into the review of the computer-based calculations that control radiation dosage, so that multiple experts check them independently. Medical physicists also examine machinery frequently to maintain proper functioning.

Managing Side Effects of Radiation Therapy
Advances in the precision of radiation therapy have lessened the risk of complications. Still, radiation can cause short- and long-term side effects, including fibrosis of the skin of the breast, changes in symmetry of the treated breast, weakening of the ribs making them more prone to fracture, scarring of the lung, slight increase in the risk of coronary artery disease, and a very small chance of radiation-induced cancers. ARM radiation oncologists will work closely with you and your medical team to manage any treatment-related difficulties you may experience.