Understanding Radiation Therapy as a Breast Cancer Patient


There are many treatment options for breast cancer patients, and it’s important to stay informed to understand all of the options, their benefits and side effects, according to an expert.

Dr. Ana Botero, Radiation Oncologist at the Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Hospital, presented radiation therapy for early stage breast cancer at the CURE® Educated Patient® Breast Cancer Summit and stressed the importance of staying informed and informed about treatment options. .

In an interview with CURE®, she explained that radiation therapy is done using a large machine that emits energy, or what Botero called protons and photons, to locally prevent the recurrence of the tumor. It can also prolong patient survival.

“It not only reduces (the) potential for local recurrence by maybe 60%, but (it) translates into survival, whether it’s early or late,” said she declared.

Botero compared the administration of radiation therapy to patients who prescribed antibiotics. Before treatment, there will be checkups and appointments to understand which organs need to be protected from the spread of cancer. It also helps the radiologist target those risky places, she explained.

She added that the radiation therapy treatment process is very quick, takes around 10 to 15 minutes, while the treatment itself takes three or four minutes.

Who is undergoing radiation therapy?

More than 95% of patients who have had lumpectomy will undergo radiation therapy as part of their treatment, Botero said, as well as patients who have at least three positive lymph nodes and positive surgical margins. Only a few patients would not be recommended for radiation therapy, including patients aged 70 to 75 years, those with small tumors, or patients without very aggressive disease.

However, she said, “This is just a rule of thumb.” Deciding whether a patient is eligible for radiation therapy is not so “black and white”. For patients who might not meet the recommended criteria for radiation therapy, it may still provide a benefit, although at around 10% to 15%, Botero said.

“It will be an open discussion (of) benefits versus side effects with the patient, especially in young women who have another 30 years to live,” she added. “Many patients choose to have radiation therapy again because the radiation therapy technology has made a big difference in those patients with little or no side effects, so 10-15% are to their advantage.”

Side effects of radiation therapy include fatigue and redness of the skin, which can be alleviated with creams and other skin care products, Botero said. She added that there is also a risk of lymphedema, which is the swelling of the arm on the side of the surgery, but there are ways to ease this burden and prevent it from happening.

The importance of staying informed

Botero said patients do not decide on treatment themselves; they often see their doctor, listen to their recommendations and base their decision on this information. While this is a good process, Botero explained that it is important for patients to stay informed and informed about all treatment options. She said that if a patient is better informed about treatment options, they can ask more adequate and appropriate questions to help them make a more informed decision.

“I think knowledge fundamentally allows (a patient) not only to choose (a treatment) but also not to be afraid of the treatment and the potential side effects,” she said. “I think it’s very important for the patient as well as for the doctor (because) if the patient has a certain level of knowledge then (a doctor) can discuss a little more (of) the details that are important to the patient. processing . “

This article originally appeared on Cure®.


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