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Postoperative Radiation Treatment of the Breast


During irradiation

  • Regular follow-up
  • Consultation with oncologist at the end of the treatment

At end of irradiation

  • The patient should be followed-up at the remitting hospital or possibly at the general practitioner, and preferentially according to the recommendations from the Norwegian Breast Cancer Group.
  • The first consultation after ended irradiation is usually after 6 months, earlier if there is indication for adjuvant treatment with trastuzumab (Herceptin) or if required. Thereafter mammography and consultation with a physician should take place annually for 10 years.

More frequent follow-ups may be relevant for young patients (below 35 years), patients with locally advanced disease and patients where the cancer developed in relation to pregnancy.

Side effects of irradiation


  • Skin reaction in the form of redness, heat, soreness and edema. Some develops more pronounced irradiation dermatitis with desquamation and ulcerations.
  • Soreness of the pharynx after irradiation of regional cervical lymph nodes.
  • Nausea, most often slight and passing


  • Permanent changes of the skin in the form of fibrosis, pigmentations and teleangiectasies.
  • Varying degree of fibrosis of the lung
  • Deterioration of/persistent lymphedema of the arm on the irradiated side.
  • Contractures and reduced mobility of the shoulder on the irradiated side.
  • Reduced strength of the skeleton, especially of the ribs/clavicle on the irradiated side
  • Slightly enhanced risk for secondary cancer (very small absolute risk)
  • Previously enhanced risk for cardiovascular disease. This is not seen with modern radiation techniques.

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