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Whole Breast Radiation - Medical Definition


Updated March 08, 2010

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Whole Breast Radiation

Whole Breast Radiation

Art @ Pam Stephan

Whole breast radiation (WBI) is the most commonly used type of external beam radiation therapy used for breast cancer. This radiation therapy covers your entire breast, as well as your chest wall and lymph node areas, if needed. Whole breast radiation may be used to prevent a recurrence after a lumpectomy for early stage breast cancer or after a mastectomy for tumors larger than 5cm or when lymph nodes were involved. This type of treatment uses radiation from high-energy X-ray beams to kill cancer cells or slow their growth.

Whole breast radiation can be given five days a week over six to seven weeks. Accelerated whole breast radiation - AWBI - can be given in larger doses over three weeks.

Also Known As: Whole breast radiotherapy, WBI, whole breast irradiation
Whole breast radiation is a painless treatment, but it may have side effects such as skin changes, fatigue, and swelling.
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