Radiation therapy is often used to treat breast cancer, although it is less commonly recommended for cancer that has metastasized (spread to other parts of the body). This is because radiation therapy is a localized treatment that targets a specific area, and when treating metastatic breast cancer, cancerous cells usually need to be addressed in multiple places.
With that said, radiation therapy can still be used to shrink metastatic breast cancer tumors. Radiation oncologists may provide this treatment with a goal to:
- Make it easier to breathe if the cancer has spread to the lungs and blocked an airway
- Preserve organ function if the cancer has spread to the liver
- Reduce the chance of bone fracture if the cancer has spread to the bones
- Alleviate pain, headaches and other neurological symptoms if the cancer has spread to the brain and compressed a nerve
When used to treat metastatic breast cancer, radiation therapy is typically accompanied by one or more systemic treatments, which are designed to destroy cancerous cells throughout the entire body. These include chemotherapy, immunotherapy, hormone therapy and targeted (biologic) therapies. A multifaceted treatment plan can help improve a patient’s prognosis and quality of life.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, each patient’s treatment plan is individualized to meet his or her specific needs. We take a comprehensive approach to treatment, providing many different therapies in the same location and developing tailored plans that reflect each patient’s unique diagnosis.
To learn more about radiation therapy for metastatic breast cancer, call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online. We welcome patients with all types and stages of breast cancer, and no referral is required to consult with our skilled oncologists.