How Much Radiation Do Breast Cancer Patients Need?

breast cancer, radiation, cathy mccue

Patient Cathy McCue with radiation technicians Abbey Barrett (left) and Jennifer Hebert, ARRT.

Traditionally, patients with early-stage breast cancer who choose lumpectomy plus radiation therapy have been treated with five to six weeks of daily radiation therapy following surgery. In the last half dozen years, however, two landmark studies by researchers in the United Kingdom and Canada found that treating patients with higher doses of radiation for a shorter period – about three to four weeks – produced results that were as good as or better than the conventional approach.

Follow-up studies showed that the shorter-term technique controls tumors just as effectively as the standard method. Shortening treatment times can also lessen the inconvenience and costs associated with longer treatment schedules.

As a result of these findings, the shorter-term approach is becoming the standard for treating many women with early-stage breast cancer at many cancer centers around the country. At Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, investigators are launching a clinical trial to compare the short- and long-course methods in patients who have undergone mastectomies and immediate breast reconstruction.

Make An Appointment

For adults: 877-960-1562

Quick access: Appointments as soon as the next day for new adult patients

For children: 888-733-4662

All content in these blogs is provided by independent writers and does not represent the opinions or advice of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute or its partners.

Latest Tweets

Dana-Farber @danafarber
WATCH LIVE: Sarah Nikifrow, MD, PhD, discusses FDA approval of drug to treat adults with non-Hodgkin lymphoma:
Dana-Farber @danafarber
RT @KristyNBCBoston: Tonite @nbcboston news at 5, I speak w/Dr. Jacobson @DanaFarber. Car T-cell therapy gives hope to those who've run out…

Republish our posts on your blog

Interested in sharing one of our stories on your blog? Feel free to republish this content! We just ask that you credit Dana-Farber, link to the original article, and refrain from making edits that change the original context. Questions? Email the editors at