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Bedford Breast Center
436 N Bedford Dr, Ste 105
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Phone: (310) 278-8590
Monday – Friday: 9 a.m.– 5 p.m.
Breast cancer radiation therapy, also called radiotherapy, is one of the methods oncologists use in breast cancer treatment. At our Beverly Hills location serving Los Angeles, Bedford Breast Center offers different methods for radiation therapy to best suit your particular needs. External beam radiation uses a high-energy beam to kill cancer cells efficiently and safely by damaging the cell’s DNA. Because radiation can also damage normal cells, it is very precisely administered. Another option is partial breast radiation, which involves placing radioactive material via a catheter or balloon next to tumor cells.
All patients who undergo breast preserving surgery, such as lumpectomy, and some patients who have a mastectomy undergo radiation therapy for breast cancer treatment. Many patients wonder why radiation therapy is required if the entire cancer tumor has been removed with clean margins (area of normal tissue around the cancer).
Unfortunately, even with perfect surgery, statistics show that the cancer will return in the same breast within 10 years in 30% of patients who undergo lumpectomy alone. Radiation therapy reduces the risk of recurrence after lumpectomy to less than 5%—the same outcome as mastectomy. Recurrence after radiation, while rare, requires mastectomy.
Radiation Therapy Procedure
External beam radiation is typically administered to the whole breast 5 days a week for 6 weeks. A “boost” to the lumpectomy site is given for an additional 5 days. Partial breast radiation is generally given twice a day through the device for 5 days, and then the balloon is removed.
Radiation Therapy Complications
Complications of breast cancer radiation therapy include problems with skin irritation, thickening of the skin, increased risk of breast infection, and neck and throat pain. There is a very slight risk of cosmetic deformity. People with emphysema or COPD may notice increased symptoms, and there may be cardiac injury in patients with existing cardiac issues.
Patients may feel fatigued during breast cancer radiation therapy, which increases as treatment progresses and typically resolves 1 to 2 weeks after treatment is completed. There will be a lower white blood cell count, which is not dangerous.
The minor side effects resolve over time; the serious side effects are extremely rare and generally should not prevent a patient from receiving radiation. For patients with breast cancer, the cancer poses the biggest risk to life, not the treatment modalities. Scientific study is ongoing to reduce the risks of all therapies, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy for breast cancer.
Post Mastectomy Radiation Therapy
Most patients who undergo mastectomy do not require breast cancer radiation therapy. Patients with large or multiple tumors and 3 or more positive axillary lymph nodes have a higher recurrence rate, even after removing the entire breast. The pathology will determine the risk. Radiation therapy, in these cases, dramatically decreases the risk that a new cancer will occur in the same breast.
Our world-class facility in Beverly Hills serves patients from Los Angeles from throughout Southern California, including Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Glendale, and Malibu. To learn more about breast cancer radiation therapy, call us at (310) 278-8590 or contact us using the online form to schedule an appointment.