Breast cancer treatment options
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology offers a free brochure explaining common treatments for the disease include a combination of surgery and radiation therapy.
In the past, the only treatment for breast cancer was mastectomy. Today, the treatments for most early-stage breast cancer include the less-radical breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy) followed by radiation therapy and sometimes chemotherapy. External beam radiation therapy to the entire breast and partial breast irradiation are the two most common types of radiation therapy used to combat breast cancer. Patients often experience little or no side effects from radiation therapy and, more importantly, are often able to keep their breast. Possible side effects, which are temporary, from radiation therapy can include skin irritation, similar to sunburn, breast swelling and fatigue.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting American women, with more than 210,000 cases diagnosed each year. However, the disease is very curable, if caught early and according to the American Cancer Society, there are a little more than 2 million women living in the United States who have been successfully treated for breast cancer. The disease is most common in women 50 and older, a number of of whom do not have known risk factors. It is recommended that women over the age of 40 have a yearly mammogram screening test to look for cancer. Women with a family history of the disease should begin regular mammography exams at an earlier age and women in their 20s and 30s are encouraged to undergo a clinical breast exam by a doctor every three years.
"They key to treating and curing breast cancer is to catch it early," said Louis Harrison, M.D., Chair of the ASTRO Communications Committee and a radiation oncologist at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York. "There are several effective treatments for this disease and it's important for women with breast cancer to consult with several cancer specialists, including a radiation oncologist, to decide on the best treatment for the woman's type of cancer and lifestyle." For more information on treatments for breast cancer, visit http://www.rtanswers.org or call 1-800-962-7876 for a free brochure.
ASTRO is the largest radiation oncology society in the world, with more than 8,000 members who specialize in treating patients with radiation therapies. As a leading organization in radiation oncology, biology and physics, the Society is dedicated to the advancement of the practice of radiation oncology by promoting excellence in patient care, providing opportunities for educational and professional development, promoting research and disseminating research results and representing radiation oncology in a rapidly evolving socioeconomic healthcare environment.
Source: ASTRO http://www.astro.org