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Cancer Radiation Side Effects Breast

Radiation Therapy Side Effects

Side Effects of Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer?

Radiation not only kills or slows the growth of cancer cells, it can also affect nearby healthy cells. Damage to healthy cells can cause side effects.

Many people who get radiation therapy have fatigue. Fatigue is feeling exhausted and worn out. It can happen all at once or come on slowly. People feel fatigue in different ways and you may feel more or less fatigue than someone else who is getting the same amount of radiation therapy to the same part of the body. See Fatigue and Cancer Treatment to learn more.

Other radiation therapy side effects you may have depend on the part of the body that is treated. To see which side effects you might expect, find the part of your body being treated in the following chart. Many of the side effects in the list link to more information in the Side Effects section. Discuss this chart with your doctor or nurse. Ask them about the side effects that you might expect.

Coping With Emotional Side Effects

Daily radiation therapy treatments can trigger many different emotions. Fear, anger, or sadness can come up at any point in treatment. Coming to the treatment center every day can be a regular reminder of your diagnosis, fears about cancer coming back, and for many people, the entire cancer experience. In other words, it can feel overwhelming.

Fortunately, there are ways to get the treatment you need and still have some balance in your life. Katharine Winner, MSW, LSW, who works closely with radiation oncologists to provide emotional support to people receiving radiation therapy, says, âItâs important to find a balance between treatment and everyday life, when possible, to help maintain a sense of normalcy. We can help arrange your schedule to accommodate the important things outside of treatment: work, time with family, self-care.

We want to help find the best way to realign your schedule to accommodate radiation. Thereâs a reason why youâre doing radiation: to treat the cancer and prolong your life. Our goal is that treatment doesnât stall your life and that you can still do the things you love and enjoy doing. See how you can reschedule yourself to get a good balance for getting through treatment.

Radiation Therapy And The Effects On The Heart

  • Heart Muscle Damage: When undergoing radiation treatments, there is a very small risk of damage to the heart muscle or the major blood vessels around the heart. This is a potential problem if you have had cancer in your left breast since the heart is on the left side of the chest. Ideally, the heart is either not within the radiation area or only a small amount of the heart will receive any radiation, which helps to lower the risk of significant damage.
  • Breathlessness/Dizziness: If your heart has been damaged by radiotherapy you may find that you get tired very easily or get breathless on exertion, like climbing stairs. You may also notice that you sometimes feel dizzy or get chest pains.

Its important to remember that these symptoms can be caused by many things and they arent always a result of damage to the heart. You will want to immediately consult your doctor if you experience any symptoms that may be heart-related.

A promising clinical trial is underway at the Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center to determine if The Active Breath Control device will help to better protect women against heart-related side effects. The device provides an innovative way for the patients heart to be spared radiation by controlling her breathing during the actual radiation treatment.

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Skin And Tissue Imperfections

Radiation can also cause the skin over an implant or tissue flap to become tighter, tougher, and more rigid. In some cases, a treatment called fat grafting can help soften and improve the skin and/or thicken the layer of tissue between an implant and the skin.

During a fat grafting procedure, fat tissue is removed from another part of your body usually your thighs, belly, or buttocks by liposuction. The tissue is then processed into liquid and injected into the breast area. The fat that survives establishes a blood supply within a few days. In some cases, very little of the fat survives. In the best case scenario, about half of the fat that is injected will stay there permanently, while the rest will be reabsorbed by the body. Several sessions of fat grafting may be needed to get the best results.

If youre considering fat grafting, talk with your plastic surgeon about whether your results are likely to match your expectations. Even though fat grafting is used to improve skin and tissue imperfections after radiation therapy, fat grafting doesnt take as well in radiated tissue as it does in non-radiated tissue. Its also important to know that once you take fat from a donor site on the body such as the belly to use for fat grafting, then you wont be able to use tissue/fat from that site again for breast reconstruction. If you decide you want a flap reconstruction in the future, you may have already used up a key tissue source.

What Should I Expect Before Radiation Therapy For Breast Cancer

Side effects of radiation for breast cancer: What to know

Most people who have breast cancer treatment receive external beam radiation therapy. The goal is to destroy any remaining cancerous cells while protecting healthy tissue.

Before your first treatment, you will have a planning session . This simulation helps your provider map out the treatment area while sparing normal tissues . This session may take one hour or longer.

During the simulation, your provider:

  • Carefully positions your body in an immobilization device on the treatment table. This device helps you stay in the correct position for all treatments.
  • Uses techniques to reduce the dose to the heart and lungs
  • Uses a tattoo device to mark the corners of the treatment areas . The freckle-sized tattoos are permanent. These markings help your provider align the radiation treatment in the same manner each time.
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    Deep Inspiration Breath Hold

    Various techniques are used to minimise the exposure of the heart to radiation. One technique is to voluntarily hold a deep breath for 20-30 seconds while the radiation is delivered, as this expands the lungs and moves the heart away from the radiation field. Pre-treatment assessment of lung capacity and breathing patterns is carried out and the patient is given instruction on breath-holding for the required time.

    To accurately maintain a deep inspiration breath hold, some centres use an active breathing co-ordinator device. Using this, patients are taught to take and hold a measured deep breath while the radiation dose is delivered. Using this method, patients can monitor their own breathing and the machine links to the linear accelerator ensuring that the radiation dose is only delivered when optimal breath hold is reached and maintained.

    Both methods have been shown to reduce the exposure of the heart to radiation.

    Radiation Therapy For Breast Cancer

    Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays or particles to destroy cancer cells. It is often used to treat breast cancer. Your healthcare team will consider your personal needs to plan the type and amount of radiation, and when and how it is given. You may also receive other treatments.

    Radiation therapy is given for different reasons. You may have radiation therapy to:

    • lower the risk of the cancer coming back, or recurring, after surgery
    • shrink a tumour before surgery
    • treat breast cancer that comes back, or recurs, in the area of a mastectomy
    • relieve pain or control the symptoms of advanced breast cancer

    Doctors use external beam radiation therapy to treat breast cancer. During external beam radiation therapy, a machine directs radiation through the skin to the tumour and some of the tissue around it.

    Some women may not be able to have radiation therapy because they already had radiation therapy to the chest or breast. Doctors may not offer radiation therapy to women with lung problems, damaged heart muscles and certain connective tissue diseases.

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    Breast Radiation Side Effects

    Radiation therapy, also called radiotherapy, is a very effective treatment for lowering the risk of recurrence in early-stage breast cancer and for managing pain or complications of metastatic breast cancer. While radiation therapy itself isnât painful, there are side effects that can feel uncomfortable. This is because while radiation destroys cancer cells, it also damages healthy cells near the area being treated.

    Itâs completely normal to be concerned about potential side effects of radiation therapy. Your healthcare team is there to support you and help you manage side effects. Weâre here for you too, with information about what you might experience and things you can do to feel better.

    As you prepare for radiation treatment, consider what you may want to ask your team, such as:

    • What kinds of side effects can I expect? When are they most likely to start?
    • Are there side effects I should let you know about immediately?
    • Can you recommend ways I can take care of my skin during treatment?

    The type and intensity of radiation therapy side effects you may experience depend on a number of factors, such as:

    You can learn more about the different types of radiation and why they are recommended on the Radiation therapy for breast cancer page.

    • Sensitivity to sunlight
    • Skin color changes

    You can hear more of Dr. Garyâs recommendations for skin care during radiation therapy in our full video interview.

    Changes In The Shape Size And Feel Of The Breast

    Side Effects of Radiation Therapy After Breast Cancer

    In time radiotherapy can cause the breast tissue to change shape or shrink in size a little. This can happen to your natural breast tissue or a reconstructed breast.

    After radiotherapy, the breast might feel hard and less stretchy. This is due to a side effect called radiation fibrosis. This side effect is usually mild.

    Sometimes the breast can shrink a little over time. This is because radiotherapy can make the breast tissue contract so that the breast gradually gets smaller.

    An implant in a reconstructed breast can become hard and may need replacing.

    Let your surgeon know of any changes, they may be able to do some minor surgical adjustments to improve the look.

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    What Are 5 Harmful Effects Of Radiation

    Here are a few common health effects or harmful effects of radiation on the human body.

    • Hair. Loss of hair fall occurs when exposure to radiation is higher than 200 rems.
    • Heart and Brain. Intense exposure to radiation from 1000 to 5000 rems will affect the functioning of the heart.
    • Reproductive Tract.

    How Radiation Can Affect Breast Implants

    Due to its damaging effects on tissues, radiation can make cosmetic procedures more challenging. For instance, radiation can cause asymmetry . Thats because radiation can cause the skin over an implant or tissue flap to become firmer and more rigid, which can also lead to infection and cause the breast that underwent surgery to leak fluids. But, dont worry, there is a fix a plastic surgeon may do a fat injection to help soften and improve the affected breast.

    Still, these post-reconstruction risks can be mitigated with the right amount of radiation. Radiation is typically administered in small doses over several weeks, but Dr. Mutter says some studies show the benefits of giving bigger rounds each day and finishing over a shorter time. The thought behind this approach is that it reduces the risk of complications down the line.

    Theres a lot for us to still learn about why some patients might develop side effects where others may not, Dr. Mutter says. But both doctors acknowledge that theres still room for improvements to be made for breast cancer survivors.

    Were not only worried about cancer recurrence and survival but we also have to prioritize their quality of life and cosmetic outcome, because we dont want women to look at their breasts and always be reminded of this diagnosis and be upset by it, Dr. Kim says. Id rather her forget about it: Thats a success in my book.

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    Internal Radiation Therapy Use In Breast Cancer

    The main type of internal radiation therapy used to treat breast cancer is called High-Dose Rate brachytherapy. HDR brachytherapy can be used for some patients with early-stage breast cancer. After a lumpectomy, a procedure is performed to place an applicator into the breast. This applicator contains a few tubes that hold the radioactive seeds. Over the course of a few days, the seeds will be placed in the applicator to kill any remaining cancer cells left inside the breast. Once treatment is done, the applicator is removed. HDR brachytherapy is a much shorter process than external beam radiation therapy for breast cancer but is not available to every patient based on the size, stage, and type of breast cancer.

    When Is Radiation Therapy Used For Breast Cancer

    Long Term Side Effects Of Radiation Therapy For Breast Cancer

    Radiation therapy may be recommended as a treatment option following a lumpectomy or to treat more advanced stages of cancer. It may also be suggested to use other treatments, such as chemotherapy combined with radiation therapy. This is called neoadjuvant therapy and is largely dependent on each patients individualized treatment plan.

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    Who Is Eligible For Hypo

    • Standard external beam radiation, which usually entails approximately 6 weeks of daily radiation.
    • Hypo-fractionated radiation using 3 to 4 weeks of daily radiation.
    • Balloon breast brachytherapy using 1 week of twice-daily radiation.

    If you need radiation treatment, talk to your doctor about short-course radiation treatment. Make sure you understand all your options.

    How Can I Manage Skin Problems

    You may notice that your skin in the treatment area begins to look reddened, irritated, sunburned or tanned. After a few weeks your skin may become very dry. Ask your doctor or nurse for advice on relieving itching or discomfort.

    With some kinds of radiation therapy, treated skin may develop a “moist reaction,” especially in areas where there are skin folds. When this happens, the skin is wet and it may become very sore. It’s important to notify your doctor or nurse if your skin develops a moist reaction. You might find it helpful to seek care from an onco-dermatologist, a doctor who specializes in caring for skin problems cancer patients encounter.

    Be very gentle with the skin in the treatment area. Avoid irritating treated skin, which can compromise the stratum corneum . When you wash, use only lukewarm water and mild soap. Don’t wear tight clothing over the treatment area. It’s important not to rub, scrub or scratch any sensitive spots. Also avoid putting anything that is very hot or very coldsuch as heating pads or ice packson your treated skin. Don’t use any powders, creams, perfumes, deodorants, body oils, ointments, lotions, or home remedies in the treatment area while you’re being treated or for several weeks afterward . Thats because many skin products can leave a coating on the skin that can interfere with radiation therapy or healing.

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    Radiation therapy sideeffects: 5 tips to cope. BY Pamela J. Schlembach, M.D. Like many types of cancer treatment, radiation therapy can cause sideeffects and have a profound impact on patients. Many of my patients suffer from lack of sleep, malnutrition, fatigue and skin irritation, and some arent quite sure how to cope.

    SideEffects of Local Radiation Therapy for BreastCancer. The sideeffects of irradiation of the breast, chest wall, and regional lymph nodes are listed in Table 5. As with chemotherapy, much of.

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    While these short-term side effects prove how high-risk abortion can be, it can also lead to more devastating long-term dangers of abortion such as: Cancer. Abortion or pregnancies not carried to completion increase the risk of developing breast cancer due. External beam radiation is the most common kind of radiation treatment for breast cancer. Itâs a painless treatment, like getting an X-ray. A doctor will place a machine on the outside of your body and aim the radiation beams at the area of the cancer. Short-term side effects of external radiation include: fatigue red, itchy, dry or.

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    What Is Radiation Recall

    Having radiotherapy for breast cancer – Part Three: Side Effects and Support

    Radiation recall is a rash that looks like a severe sunburn. It is rare but it can happen when certain types of chemotherapy are given during or soon after external-beam radiation therapy.

    The rash appears on the part of the body that received radiation therapy. Symptoms may include redness, tenderness, swelling, wet sores, and peeling skin.

    Typically, these effects start within days or weeks of starting radiation therapy. But they can also appear months or years later. Doctors treat radiation recall with medications called corticosteroids. Rarely, it may be necessary to wait until the skin heals to continue with chemotherapy.

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    What Is Radiation Therapy For Breast Cancer

    Radiation for Breast Cancer. Radiation therapy is treatment with high-energy rays that destroy cancer cells. Some women with breast cancer will need radiation, in addition to other treatments. Radiation therapy is used in several situations: After breast-conserving surgery , to help lower the chance that

    Early And Late Effects Of Radiation Therapy

    • Early side effects happen during or shortly after treatment. These side effects tend to be short-term, mild, and treatable. Theyre usually gone within a few weeks after treatment ends. The most common early side effects are fatigue and skin changes. Other early side effects usually are related to the area being treated, such as hair loss and mouth problems when radiation treatment is given to this area.
    • Late side effects can take months or even years to develop. They can occur in any normal tissue in the body that has received radiation. The risk of late side effects depends on the area treated as well as the radiation dose that was used. Careful treatment planning can help avoid serious long-term side effects. Its always best to talk to your radiation oncologist about the risk of long-term side effects.

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