Whole breast radiation therapy uses high-powered x-rays to eliminate breast cancer cells. With this type of radiation therapy, the entire breast obtains the radiation therapy. Cancer cells multiply faster than normal cells in the body. Because radiation is most harmful to rapidly expanding cells, radiation therapy damages cancer cells greater than normal cells. This stops the cancer cells from expanding and separating, and brings about cell death. This type of radiation is delivered by an x-ray machine that delivers an accurate area of radiation either to the entire breast, or the chest wall. Often, radiation will target the lymph nodes in the armpit or neck area or under the breast bone. You may obtain radiation treatment either in a healthcare facility or in a private outpatient radiation. Before you have any radiation therapy, you will meet with the radiation oncologist. Prior to radiation is provided there is a preparation process called a "simulation" where the cancer and normal tissues are mapped. Often the doctor will recommend small skin marks called "tattoos" to aid guide the therapy. Some facilities use ink tattoos. You might be asked not to wash the area during therapy and the marks might need to be repaired before each treatment session. You will push a special table, either on your back or your stomach; The service technicians will position you so the radiation targets the treatment area; Sometimes alignment x-rays or scans are taken before treatment to ensure you are aligned in the right therapy placement. Some centers use a machine that provides radiation at particular points of your breathing cycle.
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