Patients who undergo lumpectomy surgery for treatment of their breast cancer almost always receive radiation therapy afterward.
This form of adjuvant (supplemental) therapy uses high-energy rays (such as X-rays) to kill cancer cells or shrink tumors. Most commonly, radiation therapy is used to kill any cancer cells that remain in the breast, chest wall or underarm area after surgery. It is also used to treat the healthy breast tissue that remains after a lumpectomy—not to kill cancer cells that may have remained, but to radiate the tissue to prevent it from creating breast cancer cells again.
Radiation therapy services, offered through the Department of Radiation Oncology, encompass a wide variety of breast center therapies and expert consultation.
What are my options for radiation therapy?
The Johns Hopkins Breast Center uses external beam radiation for breast cancer radiation therapy. A physicist and the radiation oncologist carefully plan where the beams should be aimed using advanced calculations and past scans of the patient. The patient lies on a table and the beams are aimed toward the breast cancer. This type of radiation can treat part of the breast (known as partial breast radiation) or the whole breast (known as whole breast radiation). Though the standard of care is six weeks of treatment, there are now three week protocols that have proven to be very effective.
Why should I consult with a breast radiation oncologist?
At the Johns Hopkins Breast Center, our radiation oncologists are experts in treating patients with breast cancer. Our team includes a physicist on staff who assists with this type of treatment to help ensure that the radiation is done in the precise location where the treatment is needed. As is the case with all your treatment, you should be given the opportunity to participate in the decision-making about this type of treatment option. The physicians and nurses should be forthcoming with information about how this treatment is done, the risks and benefits, and precisely how it will be administered to you.
Where can I be treated by a Johns Hopkins radiation oncologist?
Johns Hopkins Radiation Oncology has several locations throughout Maryland and Washington, DC:
- The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Downtown Baltimore
- Central Maryland Radiation Oncology, Columbia
- Johns Hopkins Breast Center at Green Spring Station, Lutherville
- Johns Hopkins Health Care and Surgery Center (Suburban Hospital), Bethesda
- Sibley Memorial Hospital, Washington, DC
Learn more about breast radiation oncology: