Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Radiation Therapy

Fig. 1

Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer

Fig. 2
These images show a patient with breast cancer, who has had reconstruction performed. Note how the "Standard" plan (Fig. 2) shows hot spots or areas of unnecessarily high radiation dose at the top and bottom of the implant. By using the dose-sculpting properties of IMRT, (Fig. 1) shows that these hot spots have been eliminated.

At Genesis, we realize that the diagnosis of breast cancer can be overwhelming and frightening. Our physicians have years of experience in managing breast cancer and can help you in the many difficult decisions that must be made.

Radiation treatments are delivered using a linear accelerator to the entire breast and, in some cases, the lymph nodes under the arm or in the supraclavicular region. The treatment course is usually delivered after completion of chemotherapy (if indicated) and consists of daily treatments, Monday through Friday, for five to six weeks. An additional “boost” (higher dose) is sometimes given to the area where the cancer was found in the breast. The actual treatment, which is administered by a highly skilled radiation therapist, takes only a few minutes a day and is painless. Your Radiation Oncologist at Genesis will plan your specific treatment course after careful review of your records. Throughout your therapy, you will have regular physical exams by your Radiation Oncologist to ensure that you are tolerating the treatments.

When appropriate, CT-based planning programs are utilized to improve the delivery of radiation to the breast and spare surrounding structures. This technique is referred to as three-dimensional conformal radiation. It consists of a computer-based treatment plan which allows your physician, with the assistance of highly skilled physicists; to view the radiation beams in three dimensions so as to better target the radiation to the breast and limit the dose to nearby tissue. This technique also allows us to improve field matching in the case of multiple field irradiation of the breast and lymph nodes, thereby reducing the risk of match line fibrosis.

Genesis is also proud to offer Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT). IMRT is a highly conformal radiotherapy technique that can be used in the management of breast cancer to improve the uniformity of the radiation dose within the breast and reduce the “hot spots” (higher dose regions) seen in more tradition treatment plans (Fig 1). Breast cancer is an ideal site for the use of IMRT as it may significantly reduce the radiation dose to adjacent critical structures, including the underlying lung, heart and contralateral breast. The staff at Genesis is committed to providing the best quality and newest techniques available for the management of breast cancer.