While breast cancer is common, each diagnosis and patient is different. The Radiation Medicine department is part of the expert network of breast specialists at the Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center and the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, both on the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital campus.
Our breast-focused radiation specialists work with a team of fellow breast cancer specialists including medical oncologists, pathologists, geneticists, plastic surgeons, board-certified surgeons, and other staff to provide a customized multidisciplinary treatment plan that fits your unique condition and individual preference. A multidisciplinary treatment clinic is available to patients, allowing you to meet with an integrated team of relevant specialists in one day, maximizing convenience and effective treatment planning.
Our Radiation Medicine team has access to the most technologically advanced treatment options, in particular to avoid radiation dose to the heart and lungs. Our patients may participate in clinical research trials, giving new hope to those with complex cases.
Radiation Medicine will be part of the treatment plan for many breast cancer patients and is used in several ways, including; after a breast-conserving lumpectomy, following a mastectomy and when cancer has spread to other areas of the body.
Unlike most radiation oncology centers, our multidisciplinary approach at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center-the only Comprehensive Cancer Center in the Washington, D.C. region - features numerous non-physician specialists including nutritionists, dedicated social workers and physical therapists. We not only have access to resources at MedStar Georgetown, but also resources at the wider MedStar network including the MedStar National Rehabilitation Network.
Radiation Medicine will be part of the treatment plan for many patients with breast cancers. Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays called photons, which can destroy cancer cells on the microscopic level during high dose radiation treatments. During the actual treatment delivery, patients do not experience any pain from the treatment. New technology allows physicians to treat the tumor with increased accuracy, minimizing radiation dose to the surrounding healthy tissue and decreasing side effects. You will discuss the most effective treatment options with your physician.
Specific treatment plans might include:
- External Beam Radiation: The most frequently used treatment for breast cancers, focuses radiation on the treatment area from external machines. Radiation conforms to the shape of the tumor, treating the cancer while liming the exposure to normal tissue. External therapy is usually given over a three to seven-week period. Technologies include:
- Proton Beam Therapy – Uses energy from protons instead of photons, allowing high dose radiation with no exit dose, resulting in fewer side effects than traditional radiation.
- Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT): customizable to different parts of the treatment area
- 3D Conformal Radiation Therapy (3D-CRT): beams conform to the tumor, sparing healthy tissue
- Stereotactic Radiosurgery and CyberKnife Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) - this treatment method delivers large doses of highly focused radiation to the tumor site, sparing as much surrounding healthy tissue as possible. CyberKnife [link to CyberKnife] administers this same treatment using a robotic arm, to inoperable tumors anywhere in the body.
- Internal Radiation (Brachytherapy): Radioactive sources are placed in the breast tissue near the tumor. This option depends on tumor size, location, and other factors and is not appropriate for all patients.
- Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (TARGIT IORT): Immediately after the tumor is removed during surgery, radiation is administered in a single dose, directed at the tumor bed. This type of radiation therapy is still primarily used on clinical trials; not all patients will qualify to participate in this treatment.
Make an Appointment
For more information or to schedule an appointment with a radiation oncologist, call our scheduling line:
Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center
Radiation Medicine is an integral part of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of the only National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated comprehensive cancer centers in the Washington, D.C., area. Learn More.
Radiation Oncologists Treating Breast Cancer
The Department of Radiation Medicine conducts continuing clinical research that focuses on ways to more effectively and safely treat tumors with radiation while minimizing the amount of radiation critical organs and nearby healthy tissue receive.
Ask your physician about the research at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.