- Causes of
- Getting a
- When DCIS
a Second Opinion
Indications for radiation following
Radiation should be included following breast-conserving surgery if the
DCIS has a high-grade histology, close margins, or is more than about
5/8 of an inch in size.
What is radiation therapy?
The purpose of radiation is to destroy any potential remaining
DCIS that might still be in the breast. Radiation therapy is treatment
with high-energy rays, and is given five days a week for a period of five
to seven weeks.
Treatment is given on an outpatient basis. The radiation
treatment itself takes several minutes. Patients are instructed to lie
on a treatment table under the radiation machine. They are monitored during
treatment by a therapist in the next room who uses a closed-circuit camera.
Nothing touches the skin and there is no discomfort from the treatment.
Patients are not made radioactive and the treatment only affects the specific
area being treated.
Side-effects of treatment may include:
- A sunburn-type appearance of the skin in the area
treated, which may include blistering, redness, itching, dry skin, weeping skin (ask your doctor what skin creams
and care you can do during radiation)
- Mild swelling of the affected area
- Loss of appetite
These common side effects generally occur toward the
middle of treatment and continue for a short time after completion of
the course of radiation treatment. Radiation skin changes may persist
for months after treatment completion: change in skin color, texture and
When radiation is not an option
Radiation as a treatment for DCIS is not an option if you have any of
the following conditions:
- You have a history of autoimmune disease (especially
scleroderma and lupus).
- You have had previous therapeutic radiation to
your breast and/or chest.
- You have had previous radiation to your chest wall
- You are pregnant.
If you have any of the first three factors, radiation
can result in serious side effects and unsatisfactory changes in the appearance
of your breast, while exposure to radiation during pregnancy is not considered
safe to the fetus.