Saint Alphonsus Health System

Radiation Therapy

A 6-8 week course of irradiation therapy will be recommended for women undergoing lumpectomy (radiation therapy may be safely avoided in selected women with small, non-invasive cancers). The purpose of radiation is to eliminate any remaining cancer cells in the breast following lumpectomy, and it is very effective in lowering the rate of cancer recurrence in the breast (see Link to Radiation Therapy). There is now an alternative to standard radiation therapy which can be accomplished in just 5 days (see link to What's New…new technology… partial breast irradiation). Radiation is painless and takes only a few minutes to perform. It is much like a simple chest x-ray in that a beam of energy goes through the breast without the patient being aware that anything is happening. With breast irradiation, the energy beam is much stronger then the energy for a chest x-ray. The most common side effect of breast irradiation is redness to the skin. There is no hair loss or nausea with breast irradiation as there is with chemotherapy.