University of California San Francisco
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

Radiation Oncology

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Breast Radiation Therapy Program

The UCSF Breast Radiation Oncology Program is based in the UCSF Medical Center at Mount Zion, 1600 Divisadero Street, San Francisco. Patients are seen on the basement level and second floor of the UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center. Radiation treatments are typically delivered in our office on the basement level.

Hours of Service: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

How to contact us: For new patient appointments call (415)353-9807. To speak to a nurse, call (415)353-9943 during normal hours of service. After hours and on weekends, call (415)353-7175. Ask for the radiation oncology resident on call.

UCSF Radiation Oncology Contact Information

For more phone numbers related to the Breast Radiation Therapy Program at UCSF, visit the Radiation Oncology contact page for breast treatment.

What is Radiation Therapy?

Radiation is an effective means of treating cancer and, in some cases, non-cancerous conditions. Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells. Radiation for breast cancer treatment can be given after lumpectomy or mastectomy depending on the circumstances. It may be combined with chemotherapy and/or hormonal therapy.

Why Radiation Therapy?

The use of radiation for cancer treatment began at the turn of the 20th century, shortly after Marie Curie purified radium from pitchblende (one of the main mineral ores of uranium) in 1898.

Radiation kills cancer cells by causing the production of "free radicals". This process changes the DNA of the cancer cells and prevents them from reproducing. The cancer cells die when they can no longer multiply and the body naturally eliminates them. Healthy tissues are spared the effects of radiation because they can repair the DNA changes unlike the cancer cell. In addition, normal tissues are shielded as much as possible while targeting the radiation to the cancer site.

TARGIT Trial Shows Radiation Therapy Effectiveness

UCSF Breast Care Center surgeons Laura Esserman, MD, and Michael D. Alvarado, MD, and raidation oncologist Catherine Park, MD played essential roles on the UCSF research team that participated in the TARGIT trial (Targeted Intra-operative Radiation Therapy), a 10-year, international multicenter clinical trial. The results indicate that a single dose of radiotherapy delivered during surgery may be as safe and effective for some patients with early breast cancer as the standard radiation therapy that takes up to six weeks. Read the news story in the Fall 2010 issue of the Breast Care Center Newsletter (p. 4), or go directly to the study's findings, first reported June 5 in the online edition of The Lancet.