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Treating Breast Cancer with Radiation Therapy

According to the American Cancer Society, over 12,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in Pennsylvania in 2021.  From the moment a woman is faced with the news of an abnormal mammogram, it is impossible for her not to feel a great deal of anxiety and uncertainty.  What stage is my cancer?  What treatments do I need?  What side effects will I have?  These are all common questions a newly-diagnosed breast cancer patient may have.

Another concern a breast cancer patient may have is how they are going to be treated?  Patients want to be treated with respect and compassion and they want physicians who are going to listen to them honestly and openly.  They want to be treated with high-quality care in a comfortable and caring environment.  Having a treatment team of breast cancer experts focused on you from that moment, being your guide with the decision-making, and ensuring the most collaborative care is the best start.

There are several different types of breast cancer, with treatment options unique to every cancer patient.  The role of radiation therapy for the treatment of breast cancer is very important in allowing women to preserve their breasts.  Historically, women with breast cancer used to have their entire breast removed. Patients can now have the breast lump removed (lumpectomy) followed by radiation therapy to the remainder of the breast, which is now the new standard of care called breast-conserving therapy.  There are now multiple types of radiation therapy for the breast, including whole breast radiation therapy or partial breast radiation therapy.  Patients can also now receive radiation therapy to the breast in much shorter periods.  It use to take up to six weeks of daily radiation treatments, but now many patients can get this treatment done in three weeks.  There are also newer forms of radiation therapy that can just target a part of the breast rather than the whole breast and some patients can now also receive radiation at the same time of surgery.

At the Cancer Treatment Center at Hazleton, we use radiation therapy to treat breast cancer.  External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) is the most common type of radiation therapy for women with breast cancer.  EBRT is administered with a linear accelerator (LINAC) that generates and delivers high-energy X-ray beams to the breast cancer.  It destroys cancer cells while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.  Treatments are safe, require no hospitalization, and only take about 10 to 15 minutes.  Side effects are usually minimal, and most patients return to routine activities immediately after each treatment.

Increased knowledge and innovations in breast cancer diagnosis and treatments make the future bright for women diagnosed with this illness.  If you, or a loved one, have had an abnormal mammogram, been diagnosed with breast cancer, or would like to receive a second opinion on breast cancer treatment, please contact the Cancer Treatment Center at Hazleton today.