Women's Health

Is Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer Less 'Scary' Than Expected?

Breast Cancer Radiation

Is Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer Less 'Scary' Than Expected?

Any woman recently diagnosed with breast cancer wonders what lies ahead of her on her journey towards recovery. The treatment options are often quite daunting.

Chemotherapy, radiation, and surgical interventions are not as simple as taking a pill or receiving a weekly injection. Chemo is known to cause many discomforting side effects, as is radiation.

Going through surgery can also be anxiety-provoking for many, as you are putting your life into the hands of a skilled surgeon. When you have breast cancer, your treatment plan may encompass one or all of these above mentioned, seriously intrusive treatment modalities.

Side effects of radiation are often thought of as terrible

Radiation therapy is often associated with a lot of side effects. Many people hear horror stories of intolerable pain, nausea, vomiting, and burning of the skin. Sometimes, radiation can even cause non-healing wounds to occur in areas of exposure.

A study finds that radiation is more tolerable than what most patients believe

You might be surprised to hear that radiation for breast cancer turned out to be more tolerable for patients than they originally had expected. A new study has found that 90% of patients feel this way after receiving radiation therapy.

Not only is the treatment process less scary than originally anticipated, a survey of over 300 breast cancer patients found that 80% of the respondents experienced fewer side effects from the radiation than they would have expected. Often, people associate the word radiation with terrible stories of negative experiences. But it seems that the advances in modern medicine have really paid off for radiation therapy to treat cancer. Radiation is now more specific, targeting only affected tissues and sparing critical organs. This helps create a more pleasant side effect profile for cancer patients receiving radiation.

In addition, newer technologies deliver the radiation dose at more convenient schedules for the patients, making the easy and accessibility of this life-saving therapy much more user-friendly than before.

The study was conducted by Dr. Shaverdian at UCLA

The study was conducted by lead researcher Dr. Narek Shaverdian, the chief resident of radiation oncology at University of California, Los Angeles. His team recruited breast cancer patients and had them complete a survey after receiving radiation treatment at the UCLA breast cancer clinic between 2012 and 2016.

The study found interesting results

Shaverdian found that most of the patients felt that if future patients knew the realities of radiation therapy, they would feel more at ease about receiving the treatment. Other recent studies have also shown a great benefit for patients treated with breast-sparing surgery and radiation compared to radical mastectomy, as they often show better survival rates as well as overall quality of life.

Read on to learn more about this study, and to learn more about what women think of radiation side effects.