How Radiation Therapy Helps in Treating Breast Cancer ?
Radiation Therapy is one of the types of cancer treatment that uses high doses of radiation of protons or other particles to kill cancer cells or shrink tumors. Radiation Therapy plays a very important role in Breast Cancer Treatment
Breast Cancer and Radiation Therapy: How Effective It Is?
High-dose radiation therapy either kills cancerous cells or slows down their growth by destroying their DNA. These damaged cancerous cells stop dividing themselves or die and are then removed by the body.
This treatment does not bring results overnight. It takes days or weeks before the removal of cancer cells from the body after DNA is destroyed. Radiation Therapy is broadly classified into two main types – External Radiation and Internal Radiation that radiologists prefer to treat cancer.
Types of Radiation Therapy
Doctors decide to choose radiotherapy based on various factors such as type of cancer, size of the tumor, tumor’s location in the body, how close normal tissues are to the tumor that is sensitive to the radiation, overall health, medical history, etc.
External Beam Radiation Therapy is a treatment that uses a machine to aim radiation directly onto the tumor. The equipment is quite large and moves around the affected part sending radiations from many directions.
Internal Beam Radiation Therapy, also known as brachytherapy, involves the temporary implantation of a radiation-delivery device where cancer once was after a surgery is performed to remove cancer. This source can be solid or liquid.
Breast Cancer Treatment Cost in India not only varies with the stage of cancer but it also varies upon the hospital. Medsurge India’s access to the best hospital and doctors in India helps in getting cost-effective treatment in India
Why Radiation Therapy Is Preferred for Breast Cancer Treatment
Doctors recommend radiation therapy to kill cancer cells, ease cancer symptoms and prevent recurrence of cancer. It can be performed after:
- Lumpectomy: It is a surgical procedure to remove the cancerous breast tissue along with a rim of surrounding normal tissue. Lumpectomy when combined with radiation therapy is referred to as breast-conservation therapy. Depending on the type of patient’s condition post-surgery, the radiations can be delivered either to the entire breast or the affected part.
- Mastectomy: A surgical treatment to remove all breast tissues from a breast followed by radiations to kill remaining cancerous cells that might have spread to lymph nodes or tissue margins with signs of breast cancer. In rare cases, if the tumor size is larger than two inches, then there are chances of recurrences and hence, radiation therapy is performed.
- Locally Advanced Breast Cancer: When surgery is impossible to remove cancerous cells, it is treated with chemotherapy before a mastectomy followed by radiotherapy to reduces the chances of recurrences.
- For Treating Metastatic Breast Cancer: In such cases, radiation therapy shrinks the tumor and helps to relieve other symptoms such as pain.
Risks and Side-effects Associated with Post-Radiation Therapy Process
Side effects can arise depending on the individual’s response to the treatment. It can range from mild to moderate fatigue, skin irritation, redness, itching, breast swelling, etc. It also differs according to which tissues are exposed such as:
- Arm swelling, in case of lymph nodes under the arm, is treated.
- Complications associated with the removal of an implant in case of brachytherapy.
An individual may also face other symptoms such as:
- Chest wall tenderness
- Rib fractures
- Heart damage
- Inflamed lung tissue
- Occurrence of secondary cancers
How Radiation Therapy Is Effectively Used With Other Treatments
In some cases, radiation therapy is the only treatment to treat cancer. However, most often, it is combined with other types of treatments such as surgery, immunotherapy, and chemotherapy. Radiation therapy can be preferred before, after, or during these treatments depending on the situation and it is decided by the team of radiation therapy team. Radiation Therapy can be given:
- Before surgery to shrink the tumor size that can easily be removed by the body.
- During surgery and directly goes straight to the tumor without affecting the skin. This process is intraoperative radiation.
- After surgery to kill any remaining cancerous cells.
Limits Of Radiation Exposure To Treat Breast Cancer
As radiation therapy uses high doses of radiation, the affected area always has limits to the amount of radiation it can receive. If the affected area has already been treated with sufficient radiations once, there are chances it may not be able to have radiations for a second time.
Do you know that if an affected area has already been given the lifetime dose limits, another distant area can still be treated?
Radiation Therapy Team For Breast Cancer Treatment In India
The radiation therapy team includes the following specialists:
- A Radiation Oncologist who specializes in radiation therapy and is also responsible for providing accurate therapy closely monitors the progress followed by adjusting the doses of radiation when required. Medsurge India works with some of the Best Radiation Oncologists in India
- A Medical Physicist and Dosimetrist who takes care of radiation dosage and its delivery.
- A Nurse or Nurse Practitioner has an important role in the medical journey as they answer all the patients’ queries and take care of the patient throughout.
- Radiation Therapists –who also run the equipment and manage the treatment sessions.
What Preparations Should Be Done Before Undergoing External/Internal Radiation Therapy
|External Radiation Therapy||Internal Radiation Therapy|
|Before the first session begins, the radiologist examines the breast area to target the accurate location where the tumor is.||Before the treatment begins, the radiologist places a special device for the radioactive material in the area where the tumor was removed during surgery. This procedure may be performed during the surgery or several days post-surgery.|
|The patient undergoes a CT scan to find the exact area and avoid surrounding normal tissues.|
|Further, the therapist marks the area with semipermanent ink for administering the radiation.|
|The other specialists plan the treatment plan using the software. Once the plan is made and quality assurance checks are performed, the treatment begins.|
During The Radiation Process: Breast Cancer Treatment!
|External Radiation Therapy||Internal Radiation Therapy|
|Once the patient arrives at the hospital, he/she is taken to the radiation therapy room. The patient has to put on the hospital gown.||In this process, the radioactive source is inserted once or twice a day in the implanted radiation delivery service.|
|The therapist takes X-rays or images to detect the exact affected area.||It is an outpatient process. The patient can leave between the sessions.|
|Now, the therapist goes into another room after turning on the machine that emits radiation and monitors everything on a TV screen. Most often, each session takes around 15 to 45 minutes.||After the session is performed, the radioactive source is removed. The treatment area may become sore for several days as the tissue takes time for recovery from the surgery and radiation therapy.|
When should you come for Follow-Ups?
However, if the patient experiences any of the following symptoms after undergoing the therapy, the patient has to come for regular follow-up visits to monitor the progress and to check any signs of recurrence-
- Continuous pain
- Sudden, unexplained weight loss
- Any lumps formed
- Fever or cough
- Any other symptom that worries the patient
What Is The Success Rate Of Radiation Therapy To Treat Breast Cancer?
Additionally Radiation Therapy increases the chances of an individual’s survival by almost 35%. The 10-year survival rate after undergoing radiotherapy as part of treatment for breast cancer is approximately 65% with no significant long-term side-effects were reported so far. However, if the cancer is detected at an early stage, it can be treated with either internal or external beam therapy and the survival chances increase up to 90%. Depending on the complexity of the case, breast cancer may require different types of treatments. Of all treatments, Radiotherapy costs vary with type and stage of cancer.
What Are The Factors Affecting The Cost Of Breast Cancer Treatment In India?
- Type of hospital chosen
- Type of the room selected
- Stage of the tumor
- Specialists fees include surgeons, radiologists, nurses.
- Tests and diagnostic procedures
- Radiation Therapy and Chemotherapy sessions
- Surgery, if performed
Role Of Medsurge India In Providing Affordable Breast Cancer Treatment In India!
Medsurge India helps to provide cost-effective Breast Cancer Treatment in India to patients across the globe. Being one of the reputable medical tourism companies in India, it focuses on providing complete transportation, travel, accommodation, and tourist assistance to health-seeking individuals and their families.
Also, watch the Video Testimonial of a Patient who underwent Breast Cancer Surgery in India