Radiation therapy for metastatic breast cancer
Radiation therapy focuses the power of high-energy x-rays on areas of your body that need to be treated. The radiation is thought to cause breaks in strands of DNA, which can keep the cancer cells from dividing.
- Manage pain from tumors in the bone
- Treat or prevent symptoms secondary to breast cancer in the brain or lungs
- Lessen pain and prevent injury to the nerves by treating tumors of the spine that are pushing on the spinal cord
It’s unlikely that radiation will get rid of the cancer completely. It may improve pain or symptoms from nerve damage and in doing so improve your quality of life.
The doctor finds the exact areas to be treated after a physical exam and a review of your radiology tests. Next, you will lie on a flat table while the doctor finds the areas to be treated. Small tattoos the size of freckles are placed on the skin to ensure the treatments are precise.
The total dose of radiation and the number of treatments vary based on the size and location of the cancer, the reason for treatment, other treatments you are receiving and your overall health.
The side effects of radiation therapy are very specific to where you receive the treatment. If you receive radiation to the liver, for example, it’s possible to have nausea or vomiting. In brain mets, radiation treatment can cause changes in thinking and memory. Talk with your radiation oncologist before and during treatment about side effects, so you know what to expect. Your providers can help you prepare.