What to expect from your breast cancer radiation therapy

What to expect from your breast cancer radiation therapy

How does radiation therapy work?

What type of radiation therapy is used for breast cancer?

What happens before radiation therapy begins?

What happens at a first radiation therapy appointment?

At your first treatment session, you will be positioned on the treatment bed in the same position as during your CT scan. Your skin markings and individual treatment plan will be used to deliver the prescribed radiation therapy. You will need to lie still while the LINAC machine delivers your radiation treatment from several different angles. While the radiation is being delivered, your radiation therapists will monitor you from another room. You will always be able to communicate with them through an intercom during your treatment and they can pause the treatment if required.2,3

The rest of your radiation therapy treatment sessions will be similar to your first session. The total number of treatment sessions will depend on your individual treatment plan, but most patients with breast cancer receive daily radiation on 5 consecutive days per week for 3 to 6 weeks. Each individual treatment session usually takes about 10 to 30 minutes to complete.1,2 While you’re receiving treatment, you may feel like listening to music to help you relax. You can discuss this option with your radiation therapists.3

You will not be radioactive during or after external beam radiotherapy treatment. You can safely mix with other people, including children and pregnant women, at any time during and after your treatment. After each treatment session, most people can continue to carry out their usual daily activities, including work.3 If you have any concerns about your treatment, please speak to your doctor or care team. Your doctor and nursing team will check-in with you regularly and can provide you with information to help manage any side effects that you may experience.

What happens after I finish my radiation therapy treatment course?


Any medical procedure or treatment involving the use of radiation carries risks, including skin irritation and associated pain. Before proceeding with treatment, you should discuss the risks and benefits of the treatment with an appropriately qualified health practitioner. Individual treatment outcomes and experiences will vary.