Mayo Clinic Q&A

From complex or serious conditions like cancer and heart disease to the latest news on research and wellness, host Dr. Halena Gazelka asks the questions and gets easy-to-understand answers from Mayo Clinic experts

Episodes Breast cancer radiotherapy and treatment innovations

a young couple sitting on a couch or bed with a blanket, comforting each other, perhaps after the woman has had chemotherapy treatment for cancer.

Breast cancer radiotherapy and treatment innovations
April 30, 2021

The type of breast cancer a person has and how far it has spread determine the appropriate treatment. Previously, a patient with breast cancer might have received five to six weeks of radiation therapy.

But the approach is changing.

"For many years, we had the understanding that giving a little bit of radiation each day, and spreading that treatment out over multiple weeks was the gentlest on the normal tissues, and that would lead to the least side effects," says Dr. Robert Mutter, a Mayo Clinic radiation oncologist. "But over the last decade, or two, there's been a lot of research. We found we might be better off giving bigger doses each day and finishing in a shorter period of time. And that might be better at destroying the cancer cells, while limiting sides effects of the normal tissue."

In this Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Mutter expands on the research at Mayo Clinic's research and the development of new therapies to minimize patient side effects from radiation, including the increased use of proton therapy. Dr. Mutter also talks about the patient concerns about relapses and how Mayo is using medicines in combination with radiation to reduce relapse risks.