Patients & Visitors

Breast Unit

Adjuvant therapies


Patient having radiotherapy in the Oncology Unit

Most women with breast cancer will be offered further, or adjuvant, treatment following surgery with a view to increasing the chance of a complete cure.

The recommendations made to you will depend on analysis of specimens taken at the operation, discussion of your case at the weekly multi disciplinary team meeting (MDT) and following national guidelines.

Following your surgery you will be offered an appointment with either your surgical team or a doctor at the oncology unit specialising in breast cancer treatments to discuss your options in detail.

You will be given detailed information (including written information) on treatment schedules, side effects and how we can support you through your treatment.

If you require chemotherapy, this is normally given as the first treatment after surgery, followed by radiotherapy, and hormone therapy. If you don't require chemotherapy, hormone therapy can started immediately after surgery, and can be taken alongside radiotherapy. Herceptin is usually given after radiotherapy for a total of 12 months.

Radiotherapy is the use of high energy x-rays to destroy cancer cells. Treatment is given as an outpatient over 3-6 weeks, with short daily visits Monday to Friday. Radiotherapy may be advised for a number of reasons following breast surgery, these include:

  • To the remaining breast tissue If you have had breast conserving surgery (lumpectomy' or wide local excision)
  • To the chest tissue If you required a mastectomy and you had a large tumour or cancer cells were found in several of the lymph nodes under the arm
  • To the lymph nodes above the collarbone, if cancer cells were found in several of the lymph nodes under the arm

Further information

What is Radiotherapy?

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