Now a common and safe method to prevent the growth of cancer cells, radiotherapy is considered one of the most effective treatments after breast cancer surgery. A number pf patients will be recommended to receive this treatment to either prevent the recurrence of the disease or to seek symptom relief from the disease.
Patients who are singled out to receive the treatment will have daily sessions on the weekdays for about 5-6 weeks where they will be treated as outpatients at the treatment facility. During the course of the treatment, patients need to meet with their radiation oncologist once a week to review their progress and concerns since
some patients may experience certain side effects during the treatment.
Just like any other treatment, radiotherapy will also impact different patients in different ways. While none of the side effects are harmful, they can cause discomfort and uneasiness for the patient. Possible side effects may start during the second week of the treatment and should be reported to the medical staff so they may be managed quickly.
Typical symptoms associated with receiving radiotherapy include fatigue where the patient experiences lower energy levels, may have less motivation and feel tied repeatedly. If this happens, it is important to rest appropriately. Another concern is developing dry, red, itchy skin in the area that is being treated. The patient’s breast care nurse can recommend suitable skin care products to use and care should be taken to avoid sun exposure, as well as using products with skin irritants.
Some women may experience skin burns in the treatment area while others may see their skin becoming darker during the course of the treatment. Tenderness in the region as well as thickening of the skin may also be some of the side effects of getting radiotherapy.
Rarely will some patients report hair loss in the treatment area which is restricted to the lower portion of the underarm. Typically this symptom may happen about two weeks into the treatment and is mostly temporary.
However, some women may experience permanent hair loss in the treatment area. For some women, the treatment may cause them to lose appetite and eat poorly.
But just as there are some risks associated with seeking radiotherapy for breast cancer, there are huge also benefits as well. For one, radiotherapy greatly minimizes the chance of disease recurrence in patients. This in turn improves the overall survival chances for patients. Since the treatment is successful in preventing the disease from returning, it is undoubtedly the most effective method for curbing breast cancer recurrence.
Cancer treatment options can be fairly costly with long hospital stays and medical fees building up. But since radiotherapy patients are considered as outpatients, this makes it one of the more cost effective options to treat cancer. Plus a radiotherapy facility enjoys a long span and can cater to a lot of patients every year. This helps lower the cost of maintaining such centres which in turn provides a cheaper treatment method for cancer cure to patients.
1) Chemotherapy & Radiotherapy for Small Cell Lung Cancer: http://www.swslhd.nsw.gov.au/cancer/pdf/Lung/Combined%20SCLC%20Jul07.pdf
2) Understanding Lung Cancer A guide for people with cancer, their families and friends: http://www.mylifehouse.org.au/uploadedFiles/Lifehouse/Content/Home/Understanding_cancer/Cancer_types/Lung/lung_cancer.pdf