The Who, What, Where, When and Sometimes, Why.

Emerging Areas in Radiation Therapy

New techniques and new ways to use radiation therapy for breast cancer treatment are under study in clinical trials. The results of these trials will decide whether they become part of the standard of care.

Learn about emerging areas in radiation therapy for ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS).

Identifying people who may safely avoid radiation therapy

Some women 65 and older who have small, lymph node-negative invasive breast cancers that are estrogen receptor-positive (and who will get hormone therapy) may be able to avoid radiation therapy after a lumpectomy [8,23].

Researchers are studying whether certain other women with early breast cancer who have a very low risk of recurrence may omit radiation therapy after a lumpectomy.

Hypofractionated radiation therapy after a mastectomy

Hypofractionated radiation therapy uses a slightly higher dose of radiation per session. This reduces the number of treatment sessions and shortens the overall course of radiation therapy to 1-4 weeks (a usual course can be up to 6 weeks).

Many women get hypofractionated radiation therapy after a lumpectomy. Hypofractionated radiation therapy is now under study for use after a mastectomy, especially after a mastectomy and breast reconstruction [24].

Shortened course of hypofractionated radiation therapy

Hypofractionated radiation therapy uses a slightly higher dose of radiation per session. This reduces the number of treatment sessions and shortens the overall course of treatment.

A randomized clinical trial showed a 1-week course of hypofractionated radiation therapy can be as effective in treating breast cancer as the more usual 3-week course [25].

Proton radiation therapy

Proton radiation therapy delivers a precise dose of radiation therapy, targeting a tumor with potentially less impact on normal tissue. It’s used to treat some cancers that require a high level of precision to make sure nearby tissues are not harmed, such as brain tumors in children.

Proton radiation therapy is under study for use in treating breast cancer.

Repeat radiation therapy for breast cancer recurrence

Most often, a mastectomy is the standard treatment for breast cancer recurrence in women who were treated with a lumpectomy and radiation therapy for early breast cancer [8]. This is due to concerns of increased harmful side effects when radiation is repeated.

Recent data suggest some women with breast cancer recurrence may be safely treated with repeat radiation therapy given only to the area of the recurrence and a small area of surrounding breast tissue [5]. Women who were treated with radiation therapy for breast cancer many years ago, and who have small cancers that haven’t spread to the lymph nodes may be the best candidates for repeat radiation therapy [5].

Clinical trials

After talking with your health care provider, we encourage you to consider joining a clinical trial if there’s one that’s right for you.

Susan G. Komen® Breast Care Helpline

If you or a loved one needs information or resources about clinical trials, call the Komen Breast Care Helpline at 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877- 465- 6636) or email

The helpline offers breast cancer clinical trial education and support, such as:

  • Knowing when to consider a trial
  • How to find a trial
  • How to decide which trial is best for you
  • What to expect during a trial
  • Information about clinical trial resources

Se habla español. in collaboration with Komen offers a custom matching service to help find clinical trials that fit your needs.

Learn what else Komen is doing to help people find and participate in breast cancer clinical trials, including trials supported by Komen.

Learn more about clinical trials and find a list of resources to help you find a clinical trial.


Komen Perspectives

Read our perspective on clinical trials.*

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Our commitment to research

At Susan G. Komen®, we are committed to saving lives by meeting the most critical needs in our communities and investing in breakthrough research to prevent and cure breast cancer. Our Research Program is an essential driving force for achieving this mission.

Since our inception in 1982, Komen has provided funding to support research grants that have greatly expanded our knowledge of breast cancer and helped us understand that breast cancer is not just a single disease but many diseases, unique to each individual.

To date, Komen has provided nearly $1.1 billion to researchers in 47 states, the District of Columbia and 24 countries to support research that has resulted in a better understanding of breast cancer; earlier detection; personalized, less invasive treatments for what was once a “one-treatment-fits-all” disease; and improvements in both quality of life and survival rates.

Learn more about our continuing investment in research and the exciting research that we are funding, because nothing would make us happier than ending breast cancer forever. 

*Please note, the information provided within Komen Perspectives articles is only current as of the date of posting. Therefore, some information may be out of date. 

 Updated 07/03/23


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Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Clinical Trials