- Director, Johns Hopkins Breast Center - Green Spring Station
- Department of Radiation Oncology, Sibley Memorial Hospital
- Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences
- Medical Director, Suburban Hospital Cancer Program
- Director of Breast Cancer Program, Department of Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences
- Quality and Safety Vice Chair
- Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences
- Associate Professor of Oncology
Radiation often plays an integral role in the management of breast cancers. In most scenarios, radiation is used following a surgical procedure to ensure that the tumor will not recur locally in the tissues of the remaining breast, chest, and/or draining lymph nodes. At Johns Hopkins, our highly trained radiation oncologists use a multidisciplinary approach to treat breast cancer as precisely and effectively as possible.
Our Team of Breast Cancer Specialists
Our Breast Cancer Treatments
Radiation for breast cancer can take many different forms. Most frequently, it is delivered after surgery to ensure that there are no microscopic cancer cells left behind in the region of the breast and/or the regional lymph nodes. Radiation courses can be as short as 1 week in length or as long as 7 weeks depending on the specific scenario. Furthermore, the target of radiation for breast cancer may range from only the lumpectomy cavity, to the whole breast, to the entire region of the chest wall including the regional lymph nodes.
Once you have had a consultation with one of our breast cancer specialists, the doctor will determine the best treatment course for your specific situation, including the length of treatment, the exact target(s) of the radiation, and the ideal position for you to be in to undergo the treatments.
Once you have had a consultation with one of our breast cancer specialists, the doctor will determine the best treatment course for your specific situation, including the length of treatment, the exact target(s) of the radiation, and the ideal position for you to be in to undergo the treatments. The first step in preparing for any course of radiation involves undergoing a simulation, which is when a computed tomography (CT) scan is obtained in the treatment position for the purpose of treatment planning. At this appointment, the patient is placed in the ideal position for radiation delivery, and the resulting CT images provide the information needed to create a treatment plan customized to each specific patient. Every single radiation treatment plan is uniquely generated based on that patient’s specific diagnosis and anatomy. At the simulation, your doctor will be able to determine whether specific measures are required to best treat your tumor and protect your normal tissues, such as a breath-hold technique or any other maneuver.
There are different modalities of radiation that can be used in the delivery of radiation for breast cancer. The great majority of patients are treated with high energy photons that are focused at the target region. Photon radiation can take the form of three-dimensional (3-D) conformal radiation therapy or intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). Both of these techniques are designed to optimally focus the radiation beams on the target tissue while avoiding nearby healthy tissues. Another modality for the delivery of radiation is proton beam therapy; as is true with photon beam techniques, proton beam radiation is planned to direct radiation at the target tissue while optimally sparing normal tissues. Your radiation oncologist will be able to determine which modality and technique is best suited in your case and will discuss this with you at the time of your consultation.
During your treatment course, you will meet with your radiation oncologist weekly for an “on-treatment visit.” This will give you the opportunity to ask questions and discuss any side effects that you may be experiencing from radiation.
Learn more about our comprehensive Breast Cancer Program at Johns Hopkins.