What You Should Know About Radiation Oncology for Breast Cancer Treatment

What You Should Know About Radiation Oncology for Breast Cancer Treatment

When it comes to breast cancer treatment, there are many things to consider.

How will my doctor treat this? Will the side effects cause me to be ill?

When it comes to breast cancer treatment, radiation therapy is an important tool. If your cancer can be treated with radiation, you will be referred to a Radiation Oncologist— a doctor who specializes in treating patients with radiation therapy. At Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System, we offer radiation oncology right here in Reno County.

“As October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, my message to all the moms, daughters, grandmas, sisters, and aunts is get your mammograms every year. Consider making a date of it — go get your mammograms together,” said Dr. Shirley Butler-Xu. “Early detection saves lives.”

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women, and the risk for diagnosis increases with age.

Dr. Shirley Butler-Xu, Radiation Oncologist, Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System, looking and smiling at camera with TrueBeam™ Linear Accelerator blurred out in background

Dr. Shirley Butler-Xu

Symptoms of Breast Cancer

While people can have a difference in symptoms, generally, the warning signs are:

  • New lump in the breast or underarm (armpit)
  • Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast
  • Itchy, scaly sore or rash on breast
  • Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood
  • Pain in any area of the breast

If you have any of these symptoms, see your primary care physician as soon as you can.

Once diagnosed with breast cancer, radiation treatment may be recommended to destroy lingering cancer cells after breast cancer surgery (lumpectomy or mastectomy). Radiation therapy is not a “one size fits all” strategy.

When treating patients, Dr. Butler-Xu says, “personalized and comprehensive treatment is our standard. All cancers are unique, just as all individuals are unique so the best treatments have to be individualized to each patient. We tailor radiation treatments to each patient’s personal goals while providing technologically advanced standard of care treatments right here in Hutchinson.”

We Embrace New Technology

We have recently added new technology to further protect organs at risk, especially for breast cancer patients. With Deep Inspiration Breathhold via VisionRT, when a patient takes a deep breath, the breast/chest wall moves outward and the heart moves back to allow us to better block the heart. The system is connected to the radiation treatment machine so if the patient sneezes or coughs and the radiation target moves out of a predetermined threshold, then the machine automatically turns off.

Our Promise to You

At Chalmers Cancer Treatment Center, we are committed to providing the best high-quality care that includes using the latest and most effective treatments. All radiation treatments are very personalized. Using a 24-slice CT simulator, we design a precise treatment plan by creating a three-dimensional model of the patient, tumor and surrounding normal structures. The targets as well as the normal organs/tissues are delineated on the CT so that we can deliver the needed dose to the targets but also protect the important normal structures. There are a variety of ways to make the treatments as effective and safe as possible including shaping the beams and modulating the dose if needed.

What to Expect During Your First Consultation

Your first consultation is focused on YOU. Dr. Butler-Xu will sit down with you and your family to review the specifics of your cancer diagnosis and treatment plan, while answering any questions you may have. “Personalized medicine is my passion—and I want my patients to know that I am here for them, every step of the way. I strive to deliver the best quality radiation treatments right here in Hutchinson.”

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