Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells. It may be used to treat the breast after lumpectomy or to treat the chest wall after mastectomy -- if the cancer is at greater risk for coming back on the chest.
Radiation therapy for breast cancer may be administered externally using a machine or by implanting seeds or wafers that emit waves internally.
Because radiation therapy is a local treatment, most of the side effects are specific to the area of the body being treated. Advanced radiation planning methods are used to minimize the risk of injury to the normal tissues.
The Duke Cancer Institute has been studying the possible toxic effects of radiation therapy on the lung and heart for many years. Clinical studies are available to monitor for these potential side effects.
Learn how to make an appointment at the Duke Cancer Institute.