For many women recently-diagnosed with breast cancer, choosing a breast cancer surgery is one of the first major steps in their fight against the illness. This choice is often broken down into the two main options for breast cancer surgery: Mastectomy and Lumpectomy. Some women choose a lumpectomy due to their preference for keeping their breast intact, unlike a mastectomy that removes the affected breast entirely.
A lumpectomy is commonly combined with radiation therapy in an effort to eliminate any cancer cells that may be present in the remaining breast tissue. Radiation therapy uses high levels of radiation to kill cancer cells found in the body. Because it specifically targets cancer cells, the damage to healthy cells is minimal. An oncologist may offer a lumpectomy followed by radiation therapy as an option for breast cancer that was detected early or is limited to a small, isolated area of the breast. Radiation therapy can also be administered after a mastectomy to ensure the breast area is fully cancer-free following the procedure.
There are three common types of radiation therapies: External Radiation, Internal Radiation and Intraoperative Radiation. All three types come with potential side effects, though they are relatively minor. There is no guarantee that you will experience side effects as a part of your radiation therapy, but we believe it’s better to prepare yourself physically and mentally to best combat side effects should they occur. The most common side effects associated with radiation therapy involve the area of skin being treated. Your skin’s reaction to radiation therapy can be similar to a sunburn, featuring mild redness, itching, burning, and possible peeling. Other side effects commonly associated with radiation therapy include fatigue, chest pain, low white blood cell count and issues with the heart and lungs.
There are simple steps you can take to minimize these side effects. Since radiation treatments can be taxing, we recommend making an effort towards getting plenty of rest and eating a healthy, balanced diet to help build up your strength. Staying active during your breast cancer treatment is important. A daily dose of light, non-strenuous exercise can reduce fatigue and keep you more energetic during treatments. Wearing looser, non-restrictive clothing can also limit soreness of the skin.
We hope that this information will be useful for any breast cancer patients considering a lumpectomy with radiation therapy. Choosing your breast cancer treatment can be a difficult decision and one that is not meant to be made lightly. Whichever treatment plan you’re leaning towards, it’s always wise to get a second opinion and weigh all of your available options. If you are seeking more information on breast cancer surgery and treatment options, please contact Pink Ribbon Story Foundation today.