When a woman with breast cancer undergoes surgery, the surgeon tries to remove all of the malignant cells. Sometimes, however, a few stray cancer cells remain in the area close to the removed tumor. Cancer Radiation Therapy is designed to kill those stray cells.
Cancer radiation therapy focuses high-energy x-rays on a localized area of the cancer patient. Those x-rays disrupt the cell cycle of the cancer cells. When the cells can not complete the cell cycle, they fail to divide, and eventually they die. The cancer radiation therapy halts the rapid growth of the cancer cells.
The patient should not feel apprehensive about such radiation treatments. The men and women who qualify for radiation therapy employment must undergo rigorous training. They understand how to help a patient get the maximum benefits from any cancer radiation therapy;
The man or woman giving the radiation therapy might ask the patient whether or not she had a lumpectomy. A woman who has had a lumpectomy needs to have very localized radiation therapy. During such localized treatments, an added dose of radiation is focused on the site where the surgeon has removed cancerous tissue.
During the prescribed treatment, the patient might become very familiar with the face of one or more persons who have qualified for radiation therapy employment. The patient normally receives 5 to 7 weeks of treatment. Each visit to the treatment facility usually lasts about 1 hour. Yet the patient does not spend the entire hour receiving the cancer radiation therapy.
The patient is normally exposed to radiation for only a few minutes. After that short exposure to radiation, the cancer cells do not continue to grow at a rapid pace. The powerful radiation can kill the cancer cells with just a limited dose. Healthcare providers will usually warn the patient that such powerful radiation can cause various side effects.
A week after the cancer radiation therapy, the patient's breast and underarm might appear sunburned. Still not all women have that reaction. Some women develop a different reaction. Some breast cancer patients find that their breast and underarm become swollen and tender following the radiation therapy.
On occasion, a woman who has been treated with cancer-killing doses of radiation becomes extremely tired. That is a typical side effect of the cancer radiation therapy. Like all side effects, it goes away after the cancer patient has stopped receiving radiation therapy.
The cancer patient should warn family members about the possible side effects of the radiation treatments. In that way those family members could better plan their response to the patient's return from the treatment facility. The family members would know that a tired patient lacked the desire to cook a large meal. They might then plan an alternate way to provide all the family members with the evening meal.
One Girl Scout troop in California provided their leader and her family with a daily meal, during the treatment period.