At Novant Health UVA Health System Cancer Center we are committed to bringing you the latest technology in fighting your cancer.
- TrueBeam™ stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS)
- Prone breast radiation therapy
- MammoSite® partial breast radiation
- High dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy
- Xofigo® (radium223 injection)
- RapidArc®radio therapy
- Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
- Image guided radiation therapy (IGRT)
Radiation therapy is a highly targeted and effective way to destroy cancer cells in the breast that may linger in the surrounding area after surgery. This treatment uses high-energy X-rays to destroy cancer cells.
External beam radiation is the most common type of radiation for women with breast cancer. It is a lot like getting an X-ray, but the radiation is more intense. The procedure itself is painless and each treatment lasts only a few minutes. Breast radiation is usually given five days a week (Monday to Friday) for about three to six weeks.
- Whole breast radiation: This treatment uses external beam radiation to deliver radiation to the entire breast and requires several weeks of daily treatments.
- Prone breast radiation: Research shows that positioning some women with breast cancer in the prone — or face down — position when they receive radiation therapy minimizes the risk of damage to the heart, lungs and surrounding organs. Studies also demonstrate this technique may reduce skin irritation for many women. Not everyone is a candidate for this treatment.
- Accelerated breast irradiation: also known as Canadian fractionation: This treatment gives slightly larger daily doses over three weeks. The standard approach is to give external radiation five days a week over several weeks. Some doctors are now using other schedules, such as giving slightly larger daily doses over only three weeks. Giving radiation in larger doses using fewer treatments is known as hypofractionated radiation therapy.
This approach was studied in a large group of women who had been treated with breast conserving surgery and whose cancer had spread to underarm lymph nodes. When compared with giving the radiation over five weeks, three-week treatment plans were just as good at keeping the cancer from coming back in the same breast over the first 10 years after treatment. Newer approaches now being studied give radiation over an even shorter period of time.
- Balloon breast brachytherapy/partial breast radiation: This is a technique for delivering radiation treatment in women with early stage breast cancer. It is given after lumpectomy and delivers radiation only to the tumor bed region with a small margin. It is a shorter alternative to the more traditional method of using several weeks of external beam radiation. Radiation is delivered twice a day over the course of one week.
- Partial breast irradiation: This technique involves treating only a portion of the breast, including the site where the tumor was removed plus the surrounding tissue. Since a smaller volume of breast tissue is irradiated, it spares healthy tissue from unnecessary radiation and reduces the number of times a patient must have radiation, making it easier you and your families.
You may have many questions related to the chemotherapy (chemo) process and procedure. Novant Health presents the video webinar, Chemotherapy Treatment Webinar (below), so you can better understand your treatment options on your road to recovery.