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Jul 14, 2012 06:38 AM, edited Jul 14, 2012 08:28 AM
I have concern about the long term effects of radiation, not the short term effects. The short term skin issues, etc., are problems that probably can be coped with. Some women aren't as concerned about radiotherapy, I guess. Everyone has their own opinion about it. It may be that brachytherapy like Shayne had and maybe other types of radiotherapy are significantly safer than conventional radiotherapy that is typically used. I made an appointment to find out about another type of radiotherapy than the standard type. Some reports indicate that this type is safer, some reports indicate it isn't any safer than conventional radiotherapy.
What would be interesting are reports about people who had the typical radiation treatments 15-20 years ago, not just 5 years ago or less, but the longer term results/effects from the more recent types of treatments (by more recent, I mean the type of radiation treatments done after 1980).
As Neeners815 wrote, the Oncotype DX might help. Some women are lucky enough to have such low grade, small areas of DCIS that doctors are willing to have them forego radiotherapy. Hopefully, you will be in that minority who are told that radiotherapy is not necessary.
As I understand it, if you have standard radiation to the breast, you typically can't have radiation to that breast again if DCIS develops again, which evidently leaves only mastectomy as an option if DCIS recurs. Some plastic surgeons seem to feel that if you have radiotherapy and later need a mastectomy, it's much harder to do reconstruction of the breast. That's another dilemma, isn't it?
Some women have chosen to have a mastectomy just to avoid having to have radiation treatment. I didn't choose that. Some women choose mastectomy because they had testing and found out they are BRCA1 or BRCA2 carriers. Some women who don't have low grade, tiny DCIS choose not to have radiotherapy and decide to take Tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor only. Are they taking a big chance or not? Is it ultimately safer to forego radiation or is that too risky to try that? There are medically/scientifically documented reports about the risks of late effects from radiation. Some feel that radiotherapy is essential and must not be avoided and that you have to accept the consequences of it, whatever the future consequences may be. They feel that the benefit outweighs the short and long term risks. I am in the same boat you are in regarding radiation treatments. I do think that Oncotype DX is probably really helpful--you can know the probable risk of recurrence.