Why do I need radiation therapy if entire breast tumor is removed?

Size nodes. We recommend radiation after mastectomy if the tumor is large (greater than 5 cm), involves muscle or skin, or if lymph nodes are involved. The data in support of XRT are very strong if 4 or more nodes are involved - decreses local recurrence and improves survival. The benefits are debatable if only 1 or 2 nodes are involved, but still recommendede by most experts.
Margins clear does. Not prove every cancer cell is gone. The issue varies with type and size of the tumor, in situ or invasive cancer. Some are investigating treatment to partial breast, shorter courses, and special equipment (mammosite, cyberknife). Whole breat raiotherapy is time and data suppoted. If tumor recurs in a breast, the owner is likely to lose it.

Related Questions

Do I need radiation therapy if I have early stage breast cancer with clear margins?

Probably. Discuss at length with your doc. If you are really 32, you have a much higher risk of recurrence in the breast than a much older woman (assuming that you had lumpectomy). Radiation or mastectomy is definitely indicated. Lumpectomy alone may be ok in very selected post-menopausal tumors that are estrogen receptor positive, good margins, small, and with specific pathologic features. Read more...
Depends on surgery. The answer to this depends mainly on the type of surgery you have had. If you had a mastectomy, you would not require radiation. If you had a lumpectomy, you probably would benefit from radiation. Read more...
Maybe. The stage is important, but so are other things. Namely, the type of carcinoma (ductal vs lobular), invasive disease vs in situ (or both), differentiation status, receptor expression, etc. If low grade, neg margins & neg nodes, skipping radiation is likely an option. If your oncologist insists, ask why, and get yourself a second opinion (including pathology review) for assurance. Read more...
Yes! There is nothing that makes a surgeon more uncomfortable after a lumpectomy than hearing the question: "did you get it all?" cancer is very humbling and it's growth is not completely predictable. While our margins may be "clear", we know many women will return with cancer at this lumpectomy site within 2-3 years unless radiation therapy is given. With rare exception, radiation rx is necessary. Read more...

Can breast cancer recur after radiation therapy?

Yes. After a lumpectomy and whole breast radiation, there is a 12-15% chance that breast cancer will come back in the same breast within 5 years. However, the chance of recurrence is much higher without radiation therapy. Read more...
Yes. However, chance of recurrence is much reduced because of radiation. This is the reason that radiation is the standard of care after breast conservation surgery. Chance of local recurrence is reduced by about 2/3. Read more...
Yes. No matter what treatment, cancer of the breast does not have 100 % results. So with lumpectomy and radiation cancer can still recurr. This is why patients need to follow with all their doctors for exams and x-rays. If there is a recurrence other options exist such as mastectomy. Read more...

How effective is radiation therapy for treating breast cancer?

Fairly effective. Radiation plays an important role in treating breast cancer. In the neoadjuvant setting it can reduce the size of a relatively large lesion making surgery more effective. It can be used to treat micro disease in axilla and after lumpectomy can be used to enhance survival and reduce local recurrence. In metastatic bone disease it can control in not eliminate disease. Read more...

Are there new advances in radiation therapy for treating breast cancer?

Yes. The most common method of treatment is external beam RT, which is typically given over 7 weeks. Accelerated partial breast irradiation (brachytherapy) is an option for some breast cancers and can be completed in 5 days. Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) is popular in Europe and is becoming more available in the US for selected patients; treatment may be completed at the time of surgery. Read more...
Yes. Among the many advances in radiation treatment for breast cancer is what is called the canadian protocol, which is a shorter course of treatment after lumpectomy but with the same outcomes. Read more...
The radiotherapy 4. Breast cancer news is mostly about shorter courses of treatment (partial breast or whole breast), and this addresses a problem of long treatment that may be a barrier for some and unacceptable for others, but the standard therapy works well! the big issues are: triple negative; can treatment be aovided (oncotype for dcis). Read more...