What is radiation therapy?

Radiation therapy is a form of cancer treatment that uses high energyX-rays to kill cancer cells while minimizing damage to healthy cells. When used for breast cancer treatment, radiation is delivered to the affected breast and, in some cases, to the lymph nodes under the arm or at the collarbone.

When is radiation therapy given for breast cancer?

Radiation therapy is usually given after a lumpectomy and sometimes after a mastectomy to reduce the risk of local recurrence of breast cancer. The treatments generally start several weeks after surgery so the area has some time to heal. If your doctors recommend chemotherapy with radiation therapy, chemotherapy might be given before you start radiation therapy. Standard whole-breast radiation therapy treatments usually involve daily treatments that are given Monday through Friday for about six weeks. However, the total duration depends on several factors.

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