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Patient Education (10) Radiation




Most patients who receive radiation therapy for breast cancer have the external form of radiation. It is usually given during outpatient visits to the hospital. This approach refers to the use of high-energy rays to destroy or suppress cancer cells by a doctor who is a radiation oncologist. Radiation treatment of the chest area is occasionally used after surgery to destroy cells that may not have been removed by surgery. It is usually given once a day, five days a week for six to seven weeks in a dose that is based on the type and location of your tumor. This therapy destroys both normal and malignant cells. However, since cancer cells grow and divide rapidly, they are affected more by radiation than normal cells are. In addition, normal cells appear to recover more fully from radiation effects than cancer cells. Doctors carefully limit the intensity of treatments and the amount of normal tissue being treated so that the cancer will be harmed more than you will.

In some instances, a "booster" or concentrated dose of radiation may be given to the area where the cancer was located. This treatment may be done externally using an electron beam.

External radiation therapy does not cause your body to become radioactive. There is no need to avoid being with other people because of your treatment. There is no risk of radiation exposure to other people when you hug, kiss or have sexual relations with them.

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