Radiotherapy after breast surgery

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This page describes the decisions why patients receive radiotherapy after breast surgery. For specific information on the techniques and side effects of radiotherapy after breast surgery - click here

Following Wide Local Excision

Treatment usually starts within 6-8 weeks of surgery unless there is a specific medical contraindication. After conservative surgery it is recommended that all patients receive radiotherapy to the breast unless an adverse medical condition. Radiotherapy reduces the risk of relapse from 40% - <5%. The side effects, what to expect, and risks are described on a separate page. 

To the chest wall after mastectomy:-

There are no hard and fast rules and every case is considered individually but there is a trend to offer radiotherapy in the following situations as research has show that this will reduce the risk of the cancer coming back locally from about 40%:- 5%:- There are no hard and fast rules and every case is considered individually but there is a trend to offer radiotherapy in the following situations as research has show that this will reduce the risk of the cancer coming back locally from about 40%:- 5%:-

To the armpit & supraclavicular area (just above the collar bone)

Again there are no hard and fast rules and every case is considered individually but there is a trend to offer radiotherapy in the following situations, as the risk of local and systemic relapse is improved:-

If Biopsy Proven node positive:-

If Node Unknown (including inconclusive sampling). The prognostic factors of the original tumour should be used. Radiotherapy is recommended to be given to the breast and to the regional nodes if:-

Further general information Your doctors and specialist nurses are in an ideal position to give you relevant information on your disease and treatment as they know your individual circumstances. Cancerbackup has a help line (0808 800 1234) and a prize winning video available in English, Italian, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati & Hindi explaining Radiotherapy & Chemotherapy. Cancernet.co.uk has over 500 pages describing cancer, its management, practical tips and tool which patients, their carers and their doctors have found helpful during the cancer journey.


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