Breast cancer radiotherapy and treatment innovations

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By Mayo Clinic Staff

The type of breast cancer a person has and how far it has spread determine the appropriate treatment. Previously, a patient with breast cancer might have received five to six weeks of radiation therapy.

But the approach is changing.

"For many years, we had the understanding that giving a little bit of radiation each day, and spreading that treatment out over multiple weeks was the gentlest on the normal tissues, and that would lead to the least side effects," says Robert Mutter, M.D., a Mayo Clinic radiation oncologist. "But over the last decade, or two, there's been a lot of research. We found we might be better off giving bigger doses each day and finishing in a shorter period of time. And that might be better at destroying the cancer cells, while limiting sides effects of the normal tissue."

Watch this "Mayo Clinic Q&A" podcast video to hear Dr. Mutter expand on Mayo Clinic's research and the development of new therapies to minimize patient side effects from radiation, including the increased use of proton therapy. Dr. Mutter also talks about the patient concerns about relapses and how Mayo is using medicines in combination with radiation to reduce relapse risks.

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Learn more about breast cancer and find a breast cancer clinical trial at Mayo Clinic.

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A version of this article was originally published on the Mayo Clinic News Network.