Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells, while doing as little harm as possible to normal cells. It may be given it to reduce the risk of breast cancer coming back in the breast, chest or lymph nodes.
as suggested by Breastcancer.org (2015) Radiation therapy also called radiotherapy, is a highly targeted and highly effective way to destroy cancer cells in the breast that may stick around after surgery. Radiation can reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence by about 70%.
Radiation therapy uses a special kind of high-energy beam to damage cancer cells. (Other types of energy beams include light and X-rays.) These high-energy beams, which are invisible to the human eye, damage a cell’s DNA, the material that cells use to divide.
Over time, the radiation damages cells that are in the path of its beam — normal cells as well as cancer cells. But radiation affects cancer cells more than normal cells. Cancer cells are very busy growing and multiplying these are 2 activities that can be slowed or stopped by radiation damage. Because cancer cells are less organized than healthy cells, it’s harder for them to repair the damage done by radiation. So cancer cells are more easily destroyed by radiation, while healthy, normal cells are better able to repair themselves and survive the treatment.
There are two different ways to deliver radiation to the tissues to be treated:
- a machine called a linear accelerator that delivers radiation from outside the body
- pellets, or seeds, of material that give off radiation beams from inside the body
Tissues to be treated might include the breast area, lymph nodes, or another part of the body. (Breast Cancer Care 2015).
Radiation is an important and often necessary form of anti-cancer therapy because it is able to reduce the risk of recurrence after surgery. Although it’s quite possible that your surgeon removed all the cancer, breast cancer surgery cannot guarantee that every last cancer cell has been removed from your body.
Individual cancer cells are too small to be felt or seen during surgery or detected by testing. Any cells that remain after surgery can grow and eventually form a new lump or show up as an abnormality on a test such as a mammogram.