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KIRAN DEVISETTY, MD: Radiation therapy – the big black box full of myths

Published on | Eric Brown


When patients hear the word ‘radiation,’ they immediately think of the yellow symbol: it can cause cancer and it will do harm. However, when properly used in a controlled environment, it effectively will help treat and often cure cancer.

Comprehensive Breast Care Surgeon Ashley Richardson, DO, discussed this topic with Radiation Oncologist Kiran Devisetty, MD, to help dispel the many myths about radiation therapy and explain why it is a critical component of cancer care, particularly in breast cancer patients. It often is called the biggest black box because it is a very small specialty and people have so many questions about it.

Here are a few myths about radiation therapy:

If the cancer is removed in surgery, patients don’t need radiation therapy. This is not true. Tiny, hidden cancer cells still can be growing inside other areas of the breast. In addition, cancerous cells also can return to the same area.

The entire breast should be removed to make sure the cancer doesn’t return. This is not true.

Mastectomy alone compared to lumpectomy with radiation produces the same patient outcomes.

If I undergo radiation therapy, I will become radioactive. This is not true. The radiation goes in and out of a person.

Radiation will affect my heart. Radiation oncologists use a few techniques to minimize exposure to the heart: deep inspiration breath hold is one.

Partial breast radiation is better than whole breast radiation. This is not necessarily true. There is a small chance more cancer cells are hiding in other areas of the breast.

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The surgeons of Comprehensive Breast Care recently launched “The Breast of Everything” podcast series as a trusted resource for breast health information, support and encouragement.

If you have a subject you would like the surgeons to discuss, please email your ideas to compbreastcare.com. The doctors want to hear from you. 

The views, thoughts and opinions shared in these podcasts are intended for general educational and informational purposes only and should not be substituted for medical advice, treatment or care from your physician or health care provider. Always consult your health care provider first.


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