Available Schedules of Radiation Therapy
Most treatment centers open early in the morning and close in the late afternoon, Monday through Friday. When scheduling treatment, look at your calendar and choose a time that is convenient for you. Try to set your appointments at that time every day so you can plan around them. Treatment centers are usually willing to be flexible to ensure you receive treatment.
Keeping your scheduled appointments is important because radiation therapy is most effective when you complete a full course without interruption. Call the radiation center right away if you need to cancel an appointment because of an emergency or illness.
The typical schedule for standard whole breast radiation treatment is once a day, 5 days a week, for 5 to 7 weeks. The last 2 weeks of treatment often include a boost, or extra treatment, to the area where the tumor was found.
Accelerated RadiationThe standard approach of getting radiation for 5 days a week over many weeks can be challenging if you live far away from your treatment facility, have financial problems or can’t take time off work. Your doctor may offer you a different schedule that allows you to receive a slightly higher dose of radiation over a shorter period, usually once a day over 3 to 4 weeks. This is called hypofractionated radiation.
Researchers are studying newer approaches that give radiation over other shorter periods. They are also trying to figure out which people are most likely to benefit from shorter-course radiation.
External and internal partial-breast radiation is given over a shorter period, generally twice a day for 5 days, with each treatment taking up to half an hour.
Your doctors might recommend a partial-breast radiation schedule if the traits of the tumor suggest you could benefit from it. This schedule is still under study, so ask your radiation oncologist to explain why it’s recommended.