Oncology (General Cancer)/breast cancer


Hello Dr,
Recently my aunt, who is in her late 50's, found a lump in her breast. The biopsy came back positive. On the bright side, it isn't metastasis, just in the breast. She will/is going in for radiation treatment. Because of her treatment, my kids can not be around her. I am at a loss what to do or offer or send her. My Mom said to call, but if I'm her, I don't feel much like talking. I was thinking of sending her some kind of a care package to let her know we are thinking of her, but can't do a food one as I heard patients get sick from treatment, and I'm not sure what she could actually make use of. Do you have any ideas? Thank you.

I don't know who is giving you all this information.  Radiation treatments do not make a person radioactive.  The only kind of radiation that might pose a risk for a day or two is when someone gets a dose of radioactive iodine to treat thyroid cancer.  Standard radiation for breast cancer does not pose a risk to anyone, unless they go into the radiation chamber with the patient.  As a cancer specialist, I was "exposed" to uncountable numbers of patients who were getting radiation during the time I saw them.  The second issue is that breast irradiation doesn't really affect the appetite, or generally make you sick from treatment.  Radiation to the head or the abdomen, on the other hand, might do so.  Chemotherapy sometimes does this.  So if she's getting standard breast irradiation, you and your kids have nothing to worry about.  On the other hand, if she is telling you those things, it's probably because she wants to be alone and doesn't want people fussing over her.  I do feel that a phone call would be a wonderful way to start a conversation about what she might need from you -- a visit, a visit from your kids, a home cooked meal, or just some conversation.  From what you are saying, she has a very high chance of being cured.  

Oncology (General Cancer)

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Donald Higby, M.D.


I can answer almost all questions related to the treatment and natural course of most kinds of cancer, especially cancers of prostate, colon, lung and breast.


I have been a practicing medical oncologist for 36 years, and have been chief of service at a major medical center for 25 years. I've also done research in cancer treatments.

American Society of Clinical Oncology

New England Journal of Medicine American Journal of Medicine Journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology Hematology Transfusion Medicine

MD, Stanford University Internal Medicine residency, St. Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO Medical Oncology Fellowship, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY

Awards and Honors
America's Best Physicians, last 14 years

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