Radiation therapy is the treatment of cancer and other diseases with ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation deposits energy that injures or destroys cells in the area being treated (the 'target tissue") by damaging their genetic material and making it impossible for these cells to continue to grow. Although radiation damages both cancer cells and normal cells, the normal cells are able to repair themselves and function properly.
Once you have been referred to radiation therapy you will meet with the radiation oncologist to discuss treatment plans and potential side effects. You will need to bring your mammograms to this appointment.
The simulation procedure will be the first step in planning you radiation therapy. You should expect to spend two hours for this appointment. During this procedure you will be placed in the treatment position. This will involve raising the arm on the side of the affected breast above your head. You will need to hold you arm in this position for 1-1½ hours. If you have difficulty with movement of your arm, please inform the radiation oncologist or therapist prior to the simulation procedure. Continue to perform range of motion exercises during your treatment. If you were not provided information on these exercises, please consult the nurse or therapist. Information for planning your radiation therapy will be taken during this procedure. Skin marks will be applied during simulation, so please wear soft, loose clothing. These skin marks may leave stains on your clothing. You will be given an appointment to start your treatment approximately three days after your simulation. The radiation therapist that will be treating you schedules your appointments and will work with you to find the best possible appointment time.
Your daily treatments will take approximately 20 minutes, Monday through Friday. The radiation oncologist will meet with you once weekly. Please plan to spend additional time for this visit. You will also have a CBC (complete blood count) weekly.
Your radiation treatment will be given in one of several centers. If given at The Methodist Hospital, there are two locations:
The Methodist Hospital Annex
1130 Earle Street
Parking available at no charge
The Methodist Hospital
Dunn Building - Basement DB1-077
Parking available through Texas Medical Center Parking
Precautions During Treatment
- Get plenty of rest. Treatments may cause you to be tired after a few weeks.
- Maintain a balanced diet. Avoid weight loss diets during your treatment.
- Do not remove the marks placed on your skin. Showers are recommended for daily hygiene. Allow water to run over the marks. Avoid using soap in the area. Pat the area dry. The marks may rub off on clothing, therefore old undergarments or t-shirts are suggested to avoid staining newer clothing.
- Avoid swimming, jacuzzi and any activity that will cause you to perspire, which will cause the marks to fade.
- Do not use deodorant, baby powder, or lotions under the arm of the treated breast. Cornstarch is a suggested substitution for deodorant. Powder and deodorant may contain metallic particles, which will increase skin reactions.
- Do not shave under your arm of the treated breast. This can cause skin irritation.
- Protect the treatment area from sun exposure during treatment.
- Inform your radiation oncologist of all medications you are taking.
- Inform your radiation oncologist if you experience a sore throat, as part of the esophagus may be in the treatment field.