Mayo Clinic's approach

Doctors discuss a radiation therapy treatment plan

At Mayo Clinic, doctors who specialize in using radiation therapy to treat breast cancer work together to develop individualized treatment plans.

Your Mayo Clinic care team

Your care team is led by a cancer doctor with extensive training in the use of radiation to treat cancer (radiation oncologist). At Mayo Clinic, radiation oncologists who treat breast cancer are highly specialized, which means a substantial amount of their time is devoted to caring for women with breast cancer.

Your radiation oncologist works with a team of experts such as physicists, dosimetrists, radiation therapists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and nurses to ensure the safe delivery of radiation therapy. These team members work together to provide exactly the care you need.

Personalized breast cancer treatment

Your expert team works with you to create a personalized treatment plan. A broad range of treatment options are available at Mayo Clinic, including proton therapy — a newer form of radiation therapy that enables your radiation oncologist to target the area at risk while protecting normal tissues such as the heart and lungs. Proton therapy is available at Mayo Clinic campuses in Arizona and Minnesota. Your treatment plan will be based on what's right for you and what matters to you. For example, at Mayo Clinic patients may be eligible for types of therapy that safely shorten their course of radiation treatment by several weeks and reduces costs to them.

Innovative techniques

People with breast cancer who come to Mayo Clinic have access to the most advanced radiation therapy technology and innovative techniques. From this full range of options, you will receive therapy to treat breast cancer safely and with less inconvenience. For example:

  • Fast-tracking radiation. Mayo Clinic is pioneering new treatments called partial-breast irradiation (PBI), where the radiation therapy is highly focused to the area where the tumor was removed, sparing normal tissues. For select patients with early-stage breast cancer, radiation therapy may be completed in as few as three to five days.

    One PBI option combines surgery and the placement of an internal radiation (brachytherapy) device for delivery of radiation therapy. This eliminates the waiting time between surgery and beginning brachytherapy, enabling both treatments to be completed in just five to 10 days. Other eligible patients may choose to return after they have healed from surgery for a short three- to five-day course of external (X-ray or proton) PBI.

  • Protecting healthy tissue. Mayo Clinic prevents side effects by using advanced methods to minimize exposing normal tissue to radiation that are personalized for each patient. These include the ability to treat facedown (prone) or faceup (supine), deep inspiration breath-hold technique, and proton therapy. In addition, Mayo Clinic uses a skin barrier product that is not widely available that prevents radiation burns on the breast or chest wall.
  • Using proton therapy. Some people may be evaluated for proton therapy. Mayo Clinic's Proton Beam Therapy Program features intensity-modulated proton therapy with pencil beam scanning that allows radiation oncologists to destroy the cancer while sparing healthy tissue. Some proton treatment regimens may be shorter than X-ray regimens.

The Mayo Clinic experience and patient stories

Our patients tell us that the quality of their interactions, our attention to detail and the efficiency of their visits mean health care like they've never experienced. See the stories of satisfied Mayo Clinic patients.

Expertise and rankings

A breast cancer consultation at Mayo Clinic

Your doctor will examine you before radiation therapy and answer any questions you may have.

Every year Mayo Clinic radiation oncology teams treat more than 2,800 people with breast cancer. These teams help people with all types of breast cancer.

Research suggests that Mayo Clinic patients who receive radiation treatment for breast cancer may have less radiation exposure to normal tissues such as the heart than do patients treated at institutions that do not use advanced breast cancer radiotherapy planning techniques. Studies show that lowering the dose to the heart reduces the risk of heart disease in the years after treatment.

Nationally recognized expertise

Mayo Clinic is recognized for high-quality breast cancer care and research by national organizations.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., Mayo Clinic in Phoenix/Scottsdale, Ariz., and Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., are ranked among the Best Hospitals for cancer by U.S. News & World Report.

Locations, travel and lodging

Mayo Clinic has major campuses in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona; Jacksonville, Florida; and Rochester, Minnesota. The Mayo Clinic Health System has dozens of locations in several states.

For more information on visiting Mayo Clinic, choose your location below:

Costs and insurance

Mayo Clinic works with hundreds of insurance companies and is an in-network provider for millions of people.

In most cases, Mayo Clinic doesn't require a physician referral. Some insurers require referrals, or may have additional requirements for certain medical care. All appointments are prioritized on the basis of medical need.

Learn more about appointments at Mayo Clinic.

Please contact your insurance company to verify medical coverage and to obtain any needed authorization prior to your visit. Often, your insurer's customer service number is printed on the back of your insurance card.

More information about billing and insurance:

Mayo Clinic in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota

Mayo Clinic Health System

Clinical trials

Explore Mayo Clinic studies testing new treatments, interventions and tests as a means to prevent, detect, treat or manage this disease.

March 24, 2018
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Radiation therapy for breast cancer