Radiation Therapy for Male Breast Cancer

NYU Langone doctors use radiation therapy—energy beams that destroy cancer cells—to manage male breast cancer.

Radiation therapy is used after a lumpectomy to destroy any remaining cancer cells and to prevent breast cancer from returning.

Doctors may also recommend radiation therapy after a mastectomy if cancer is found in the lymph nodes—small glands that make and store lymphocytes, white blood cells that help fight infection—located under the arm.

Treatment Planning

NYU Langone radiation oncologists use CT scans of the tumor site and surrounding tissue and organs, such as the heart and lungs, in conjunction with computer software to develop a customized treatment plan for you. This software creates a three-dimensional image of the target tissue and surrounding organs and allows doctors to determine how best to deliver therapy while sparing nearby healthy tissue.

NYU Langone doctors may perform frequent CT scans during treatment to ensure that the radiation therapy is delivered precisely to the tumor site and not the surrounding healthy tissue. This approach, called image-guided radiation therapy, helps to compensate for organs moving during treatment, which can happen as you breathe.

External Beam Radiation Therapy

NYU Langone doctors use external beam radiation therapy to manage breast cancer in men. During this therapy, a machine called a linear accelerator rotates around you, delivering beams of different strengths that are customized to the size and shape of the tumor. Treatment sessions usually occur once a day, five days a week, and take several weeks to complete.

After a lumpectomy, radiation therapy is delivered to the entire breast. In addition, the area where the tumor was located may receive an additional dose called a “radiation boost.”

After a mastectomy, radiation therapy is delivered to the chest wall, which is the muscle behind the removed breast tissue, and the draining lymph node basins, which are the areas where axillary lymph nodes were removed.

Managing Side Effects

NYU Langone doctors are able to avoid serious side effects of radiation therapy, such as heart or lung damage, with these highly targeted treatments. Men who have radiation therapy may experience breast swelling and skin irritation similar to a sunburn. Doctors can prescribe topical skin creams to help manage these side effects. They also can recommend our support services and NYU Langone’s integrative health services.

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