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Radiation Therapy For Breast Cancer: Types and Side Effects

Breast cancer occurs when there is abnormal development of breast cells, creating a lump or mass and forming a tumor. These tumors in most cases can metastasize and invade other parts of the body, and can even lead to death in severe cases. The exact cause of breast cancer is not known but is believed to be a complex interaction between lifestyle, environmental factors, and hereditary mutation in the genes. It affects millions of people around the world and is the most common type of cancer in women.

The primary treatment for breast cancer is surgical removal of the tumor. However, it is not always the best option for different cancer types and it often requires co-treatment with other treatments such as radiation and or chemotherapy. Radiation is primarily used when it is impossible to remove the tumor with surgery, and after surgery to ensure there is no reoccurrence of the tumor. In case of a metastasized tumor, radiation therapy is used to shrink the tumor and reduce the pain.

Types of Radiation Therapy For Breast Cancer

The cancer cells are more susceptible to radiation than normal cells, making it an effective treatment for killing the cancer cells. In radiation therapy, high-energy beams of radiation such as X-rays are passed directly to the tumor cells to kill them. The rays are invisible and the process is painless.

It is divided broadly into two types based on the delivery process of the radiation

External beam radiation therapy (EBRT): It is the most widely utilized kind of radiation therapy for the treatment of breast cancer. The radiation is delivered from outside through a machine into the breast.

Internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy): This is typically done after surgery to make sure the cancer cells are completely removed. A device with a radioactive source is temporarily placed into the breast to deliver radiation to a particular area.

Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT): It is done immediately after surgical removal of the tumor. A high dose of radiation is delivered to the tumor area before the incision of the surgical site is closed.

Almost every stage of breast cancer can be treated with radiation therapy. It is a useful strategy for lowering your post-surgical risk of breast cancer recurrence. Furthermore, it is frequently used to relieve the symptoms of cancer that has metastasized from breast cancer to other parts of the body.

Procedure Details of The Radiation Therapy

To have a planning session is the first step before undergoing radiation therapy. During this session, the radiation oncologists will discuss the treatment schedule. The patient will be explained the process in detail and demonstrated the techniques to protect the lungs and heart from radiation exposure. There is a simulation during the planning session as well. The radiation oncology team uses a computed tomography (CT) scan to map the area of the breast that needs to be treated, and to ensure that the radiation treatment is aligned consistently each time, they mark that area with a tattoo device. It might take an hour to complete the simulation.

During the treatment, the patient is placed in an immobilization device and line up the linear acceleration which will deliver the radiation beam into the target area. It is advised to wear a loose fitting cloth during the treatment, this might prevent the breast from getting hurt or feeling sore. Eating a healthy diet and getting some exercise will help the person to stay strong throughout the therapy and will help to manage fatigue.

Side Effects Associated With Radiation Therapy

The side effects associated with radiation therapy can significantly vary based on the type of treatment and the type of treated tissues. The most noticeable side effects usually occur near the completion of the radiation therapy and it might take a few days or weeks after the sessions are over for any side effects to go away. Some of the common symptoms are:

  • Swelling of the breast
  • Fatigue
  • Irritation and itching of the skin, redness and blister may appear
  • Lymphedema may occur if the lymph nodes under the arm are treated causing swelling of the arm
  • Secondary cancers such as lung cancer or sarcoma (cancer of the bone or muscle)
  • Inflammation of the lung tissue
  • Radiation heart disease (cardiotoxicity)
  • Tenderness in the wall of the chest or fracture of ribs

Breast cancer is not preventable, but is curable if diagnosed early and treated at the proper time. In India, a variety of services, including early detection and diagnosis as well as surgical and medical treatments, are available from hospitals and cancer centers. Also, despite of being staffed by highly qualified medical professionals with advanced medical equipments, breast

cancer treatment cost in India is comparatively lower than the majority of other countries.

Another Cancer Treatment Costs:-

Cost of Radiation Therapy

The cost of radiation therapy depends on several factors such as pre-procedure tests, the type and stage of cancer, the type of treatment advised, the cost of follow-up consultation fees, medicines, and post-procedure treatment. The cost of treatment is different for each individual depending on the precise treatment required. Likewise, radiation therapy cost in India will vary based on the following factors:

  • The type and location of the hospital
  • Requirement for other tests such as ECG, X-ray etc.
  • The oncologist’s fee
  • The patient’s overall condition
  • The type of radiation therapy needed
  • The area of the tumor need to be exposed
  • Complications following the therapy

The majority of cancer hospitals in India hold accreditations from DSIR, NABL, NABH, ISO, and CAP. These facilities have top-notch infrastructure, which gives their patients a relaxing atmosphere, and offers the best cancer treatment along with the highest level of patient care. These hospitals employ highly qualified medical professionals who have extensive training and experience in providing excellent patient care. When combined, these hospitals offer effective international services in India.

Also Read:- Aziz Alasmar Biography

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