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Breast external beam radiation - discharge

Radiation - breast - discharge

You're having radiation treatment for breast cancer. With radiation, your body will go through some changes. Knowing what to expect will help you be prepared for these changes.

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What to Expect at Home

You may notice changes in the way your breast looks or feels (if you are getting radiation after a lumpectomy). Changes occur due to both surgery and radiation therapy. These changes include:

Skin Care

During and immediately after treatment the skin may be sensitive. Take care of the treatment area:

Tell your provider if you have any breaks, cracks, peeling, or openings in your skin. Do not put heating pads or ice bags directly on the treatment area. Wear loose-fitting breathable clothing.

Wear a loose-fitting bra and consider a bra without an underwire. Ask your provider about wearing your breast prosthesis, if you have one.


It is important to get enough sleep and stay hydrated during your treatments.

Exercise, even a few minutes a day, can help lessen fatigue.

You need to eat enough protein and calories to keep your weight up while you are having radiation.

Tips to make eating easier:

Watch for these signs of swelling (edema) in your arm.

Ask your provider about physical exercises you can do to keep your arm moving freely.

Some people who get breast cancer treatment can feel tired after a few days. If you feel tired:

Related Information

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Breast cancer
Dry mouth during cancer treatment
Eating extra calories when sick - adults
Lymphedema - self-care
Drinking water safely during cancer treatment
Safe eating during cancer treatment
When you have diarrhea
When you have nausea and vomiting
Radiation therapy - questions to ask your doctor


National Cancer Institute website. Radiation therapy and you: support for people with cancer. Updated April 2021. Accessed December 26, 2022.

Zeman EM, Schreiber EC, Tepper JE. Basics of radiation therapy. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Kastan MB, Doroshow JH, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 27.


Review Date: 10/27/2022  

Reviewed By: David Herold, MD, Radiation Oncologist in Jupiter, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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