Radiation therapy is a highly targeted, highly effective way to destroy cancer cells that may linger after surgery. This reduces the risk of recurrence.
Radiation is usually given after mastectomy in men with:
large cancers (5 centimeters or bigger)
a positive margin of resection (when the cancer comes very close to or is at the edge of the breast tissue removed)
a significant area of lymphatic or blood vessel involvement
significant lymph node involvement (four or more positive nodes)
After mastectomy, radiation therapy is usually given 5 days a week for about 5-7 weeks.
Radiation can also be used for men with advanced (metastatic) disease to relieve symptoms or help avoid complications from specific areas of spread. For example, radiation can help relieve painful bone metastases, decrease the risk of breaking a bone that's been weakened by cancer, decrease bleeding from skin involvement, and reduce neurological symptoms if the cancer puts pressure on nerves or the spinal cord.
Q. I definitely want to avoid lymphedema. Is there anything I can do to ward it off, or is lymphedema totally random? A. The very best thing you can do to help prevent lymphedema is to make sure you get full range of motion back in your arm, whether after surgery or radiation. Favoring the arm on your affected side, hunching your shoulder protectively, being too stiff to stretch your arm up over your head and around towards your back–these are all things that will make it easier for lymphedema to gain a foothold. I have a friend who’s a physical therapist specializing in lymphedema treatment. In fact, we became close as she gave me daily massages to relieve my own swollen arm. (Just as getting a tummy tuck is the silver lining of a tram flap reconstruction, a daily massage is the big plus of having lymphedema!) This friend says that women who’ve had surgery, particularly a mastectomy with lymph node removal (even if just a single node) need physical thera...
It is natural for anyone beginning a new medical treatment to be a little fearful. For people beginning radiation therapy, this fear seems to be heightened by some common misunderstandings about the treatment.
Radiation therapy is painful. Not really. Most patients have no sensation of radiation when the machine is delivering the daily treatment. A few patients report a slight warming or tingling sensation in the area while the radiation machine is on. Over time, the skin in the area being treated will gradually become dry, sore, itchy, or burning. These feelings can be uncomfortable, but usually not enough for a person to stop or interrupt her treatment. Read more on coping with skin reactions .
Radiation therapy will cause me to be radioactive. Only in certain cases. If you are treated with external radiation, you will not be radioactive at any time. The radiation you receive delivers its dose to your tissues within an instant — there is no lingering radiation once the treatment mac...
You should knowAnswers to your question are meant to provide general health information but should not replace medical advice you receive from a doctor. No answers should be viewed as a diagnosis or recommended treatment for a condition. Content posted by community members does not necessarily reflect the views of Remedy Health Media, which also reserves the right to remove material deemed inappropriate.