Radiation to the chest after previous radiation for breast cancer

Last Modified: January 28, 2005

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Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
My mother had radiation for breast cancer two years ago. She now has been diagnosed with lung cancer. She will have the spot removed, but one doctor said she needs radiation and the other said she could not have it again. Can you give us some feedback?


Stephen M. Hahn, MD, Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology and the Division of Hematology/Oncology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

This really depends on the type of radiation fields that were used. Although it is difficult to give radiation therapy twice to the same area due to normal tissue toxicity, there are exceptions to this rule. Even though there may be some overlap between the previous breast radiation fields and the current lung fields, typically it is minimal and not over critical structures. Usually, radiation could be given again in this situation but a review of the radiation fields is needed to determine if it is possible. You should meet with a radiation oncologist to have discussions about the possibility of having radiation again.

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