Benefits, risks, and safety of external beam radiation therapy for breast cancer

Lindsay C. Brown, Robert W. Mutter, Michele Y. Halyard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Breast cancer is a common and complex disease often necessitating multimo­dality care. Breast cancer may be treated with surgical resection, radiotherapy (RT), and systemic therapy, including chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, and targeted therapies, or a combination thereof. In the past 50 years, RT has played an increasingly significant role in the treatment of breast cancer, resulting in improvements in locoregional control and sur­vival for women undergoing mastectomy who are at high risk of recurrence, and allowing for breast conservation in certain settings. Although radiation provides significant benefit to many women with breast cancer, it is also associated with risks of toxicity, including cardiac and pulmonary toxicity, lymphedema, and secondary malignancy. RT techniques have advanced and continue to evolve dramatically, offering increased precision and reproducibility of treatment delivery and flexibility of treatment schedule. This increased sophistication of RT offers promise of improved outcomes by maintaining or improving efficacy, reducing toxicity, and increasing patient access and convenience. A review of the role of radiation therapy in breast cancer, its associated toxicities and efforts in toxicity reduction is presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-458
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Women's Health
StatePublished - Apr 24 2015


  • Breast malignancy
  • Outcomes
  • Radiotherapy
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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