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What To Expect During Breast Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy often starts 3 to 8 weeks after surgery unless chemotherapy is required. If chemotherapy is needed, radiation will start 3 to 4 weeks after chemotherapy is finished. Radiotherapy is usually done as an outpatient in a hospital or treatment centre.

Radiotherapy is given once a day, five days a week (usually Monday through Friday), for 3-5 weeks. 

With newer evidence supporting shorter treatment courses, your doctor may recommend a radiotherapy course of 1-2 weeks if you are suitable. The shorter schedules have been shown to be as effective as the longer ones without any increase in side effects. Your radiation oncologist will help you decide which is best for you.

What To Expect During Breast Radiotherapy

YOUR RADIATION THERAPY TEAM

Before you start radiotherapy, you will first consult with the radiation therapy team, which consist of the following:

  • Radiation oncologist specializes in treating cancer with radiotherapy. Your radiation oncologist will discuss the radiotherapy that is most appropriate for you. She will see you regularly during your treatment, track your progress and side effects.  

  • Radiation oncology nurse will advise you on expected side effects and how to manage them during treatment.

  • Radiation medical physicist uses computer software to plan the radiotherapy treatment and ensures the machines and radiotherapy plans are safe and accurate.

 

Radiation therapists operate the radiotherapy machine and deliver your treatments.

All Women's Breast Radiotherapy Team

BEFORE RADIOTHERAPY

What To Expect During Breast Radiotherapy

Before you start your radiotherapy treatment, you will need to go through a radiation therapy simulation session, in order to plan your radiotherapy treatment. During the simulation:

  1. You will be asked to lie down on the CT scan machine with your arms above your head. 

  2. A CT scan of your chest will be performed, so that the radiation oncologist can identify the area for treatment. 

  3. Tiny tattoo marks will be made on your body to ensure your position is exactly the same each time you come for treatment. 

  4. After the CT scan is done, computer software is used to plan your radiation treatment. 

  5. Once the radiation oncologist approves the plan and quality assurance checks are completed, you can start your treatment.

DURING RADIOTHERAPY

What To Expect During Breast Radiotherapy

A typical radiotherapy session occurs as follows:

  • Upon arrival, you will be guided to the radiotherapy suite. 

  • You will need to change into a hospital gown and remove your top undergarments.

  • Inside the treatment room, the radiation therapist will assist you to get into the right position for treatment.

  • X-rays may be taken to confirm you are in the right position.

  • The therapist will then leave the treatment room and start the radiotherapy treatment. 

  • You will be monitored by CCTV and the therapist can communicate with you through an intercom.

 

The radiotherapy treatment itself takes 5-10 mins but including time for positioning and checks, the total time spent for each session may range from 20-45 mins.

Radiotherapy is painless and most patients do not feel anything during the treatment. 

After treatment, you can continue with your normal daily activities. We may recommend some skin care tips to do at home.

FOLLOW UP

What To Expect During Breast Radiotherapy

After your radiotherapy course is completed, your radiation oncologist will schedule a follow up appointment to ensure your side effects have improved and you are well. You will also require further regular follow ups to look for long term side effects or cancer recurrence.

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