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Breast Evaluation and Treatment

Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer

Diet and Exercise

Eating a healthy diet and getting frequent moderate exercise (like taking a walk) will help you feel your best during radiation therapy.

Diet:

There is no need to eat a special diet during radiation therapy. If you want more information, a dietitian is available to answer questions and help you plan your meals.

Vitamins:

Currently, there is no evidence to show that high dose vitamins are an effective supplement to current standard cancer treatments. In fact, some vitamins, given in excessive doses, may counteract the beneficial effects of radiation treatment. We recommend avoiding the following vitamins/ supplements: Antioxidants, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Alpha-lipoic acid, Pycogenol, Grapeseed Extract, and Selenium. If you are already taking a small, daily multivitamin, there is no need to stop taking it.

Exercise:

On the other hand, some studies have suggested that cancer patients who exercise regularly have better outcomes than inactive patients. We recommend getting daily moderate exercise, such as walking, yoga/tai chi, or light housework. Chlorine can irritate the skin, so stay out of swimming pools until your radiation treatments are complete. Your nurse will give you a sheet of daily exercises that are designed to help breast cancer patients maintain or regain strength and flexibility in the arm.

Fatigue:

Some patients feel sleepy, tired, or low-energy during their radiation treatments. This symptom usually doesn’t develop until the third or fourth week of treatment. If you feel fatigued, we recommend cutting back your activity to a tolerable level. Don’t hesitate to ask friends or family for help with housework or errands. If you have concerns about work, please let your physician or nurse know.


This page was last updated on: March 5, 2008.