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External Beam Radiation Therapy

External beam radiation therapy involves a series of daily outpatient treatments to accurately deliver radiation to the breast.

  • Painless radiation treatments are delivered in a series of daily sessions. Each treatment will last less than 30 minutes, Monday through Friday, for five to seven weeks.
  • The usual course of radiation treats only the breast, although treatment of the lymph nodes around the collarbone or the underarm area is sometimes needed.
  • 3-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3D-CRT) combines multiple radiation treatment fields to deliver very precise doses of radiation to the breast and spare surrounding normal tissue.
  • Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is a form of 3D-CRT that further modifies the radiation by varying the intensity of the radiation beams. It is currently being studied for treating breast cancer.
  • Side effects might include skin irritation, like a mild to moderate sunburn, mild to moderate breast swelling and fatigue.