Breast cancer


Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant cells grow uncontrollably in the tissues of the breast. The damaged cells can invade surrounding tissue, but with early detection and treatment, most people continue a normal life. Certain gene mutations, BRCA1 and BRCA2, increase the risk of breast cancer but they don't make cancer inevitable.

Breast cancer stages range from 0 to 4, with 0 indicating cancer that is very small and noninvasive. Stage 4 is called metastatic breast cancer, meaning cancer that has spread to other areas of the body.

Types of breast cancer

  • Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS) is a non-invasive breast cancer where abnormal cells have been contained in the lining of the breast milk duct.
  • Invasive Ductal Carcinoma means that abnormal cells that originated in the lining of the breast milk duct have invaded surrounding tissue.
  • Triple negative breast cancer means that the cells in the tumor are negative for progesterone, estrogen, and HER2/neu receptors.
  • Inflammatory breast cancer is a less common form of breast cancer that may not develop a tumor and often affects the skin.
  • Metastatic breast cancer is cancer that has spread beyond the breast, sometimes into the lungs, liver, bones, or brain.

Depending on the stage of your disease and other factors, the doctor may suggest treatment with surgery (lumpectomy, partial mastectomy, radical mastectomy), radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or a combination of therapies.

Radiotherapy for breast cancer

Radiotherapy is a treatment that uses high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells. Radiation works by damaging the DNA inside cells, making them unable to divide and grow. Many women who have a lumpectomy undergo radiotherapy to the remaining breast tissue to stop the growth of undetected cancer cells. Radiation usually begins three to four weeks after surgery. Treatment sessions are done on an outpatient basis, often 5 days a week, over a period of 5 to 7 weeks. Please see our Guide to Radiotherapy.

Radiation therapy can include radiation to the patient’s entire breast or a more focal radiation therapy that can be given in particular situations. Focal radiation therapy, which targets a specific area, can be given with external radiation therapy or with radiation seeds that are placed within the breast tissue. Brachytherapy is a term that refers to a number of different radiation seed applications.

Radiotherapy can have side effects, and these vary from person to person.

  • Sunburn-type skin irritation of the targeted area (which may range from mild to intense)
  • Breast heaviness / swelling
  • General fatigue
  • Arm swelling

Your team

Your treatment at Precision Radiotherapy is led by radiation oncologists who have specific expertise in treating breast cancer. They are part of a multidisciplinary breast cancer team, which also includes dedicated breast surgeons, breast imaging radiologists, breast pathologists, medical oncologists, and plastic and reconstructive surgeons.

The cases of patients with newly diagnosed breast conditions are commonly presented at our multidisciplinary tumor board.  Here, experts from multiple specialties meet weekly to discuss individual cases and recommend a treatment strategy. Throughout their treatment, patients often have access to a nurse navigator, who helps coordinate the multiple steps in breast cancer care.

Patients at Precision Radiotherapy may qualify to participate in clinical trials that are exploring promising new treatments.

Cincinnati Hope Connection offers patients an opportunity to participate in educational activities with other breast cancer patients. It also pairs patients who are newly diagnosed with individuals who have gone through the treatment process. Patients at Precision Radiotherapy who are interested in participating in this program should inform their doctor, nurse or nurse navigator.

Learn more

Radiotherapy for breast cancer

Radiotherapy treatments are given 5 days a week over a period of 5 to 7 weeks.

Sandy's story

Sandy's story