If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, your doctor will help you understand what type of breast cancer you have and what treatment is best for you.
To learn about your cancer type and help you make the best treatment decisions, your doctor will look at three important things:
- The size and location of tumor
- How much the cancer has spread (the stage of the cancer)
- The health condition of patients as a whole
No matter what your situation, there are treatments that can help you. Breast cancer treatments can be classified into two major groups based on how they work and when they are used.
Local treatment means treatment that just on breast area and lymph nodes near it. Surgery and radiotherapy are the types of local treatment.
Most patients with breast cancer have surgery to remove cancer from the breast. Some lymph nodes under the arm are usually taken out and looked at under a microscope to see if it contains cancer cells or not. There are two main types of breast cancer surgery. They are:
1. Breast-conserving surgery is an operation to remove the cancer but not breast itself. These include:
- Lumpectomy: Surgery to remove the tumor and a small amount of normal tissue around it.
- Partial Mastectomy: Surgery to remove part of breast that have cancer cell and some normal tissue near it. This procedure also called a segmental mastectomy.
- Total mastectomy: Surgery to remove the entire breast cancer. This procedure also called simple mastectomy. Some lymph nodes under the arm may be removed for biopsy at the same time as breast surgery or after. This is done through a separate incision.
- Modified radical mastectomy: Surgery to remove the entire breast cancer, manly lymph nodes under the arm, upper chest muscles, and occasionally part of the chest wall muscles.
- Radical mastectomy: Surgery to remove the breast that contain tumor, chest wall muscles under the breast, and all lymph nodes under the arm. This procedure is usually called Halsted radical mastectomy.
Radiotherapy is a cancer treatment that using energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or prevent them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy.
- External radiation therapy using a machine to send radiation to the body.
- Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, or wires, and placed directly into or near the cancer.
How radiotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of cancer being treated.
Systemic treatment means the treatment of your whole body or system. This treatment includes chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy.
Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to prevent the growth of cancer cells, either by stopping them from dividing or killing the cells. When chemotherapy is taken by mouth or injected into a muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body (systemic chemotherapy).
When chemotherapy is placed directly into the cerebrospinal fluid, an organ cavity such as the abdomen, the drugs largely affect cancer cells in those areas (regional chemotherapy). How chemotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of cancer being treated.
Hormone therapy is a type of cancer treatment that removes hormones and stops cancer cells from growing. Hormones are substances produced by glands in the body and circulated in the bloodstream. Some hormones can cause certain cancers to grow. If tests show that cancer cells have places where hormones can attach drugs, surgery, or radiotherapy used to reduce the production of hormones. The hormone estrogen, which makes some breast cancers grow, mainly made by the ovaries. Treatment to stop the ovaries from making estrogen is called ovarian ablation.
Targeted therapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and strike specific cancer cells without harming normal cells. Monoclonal antibodies and Tyrosine kinase inhibitors are two types of targeted therapies used in the treatment of breast cancer. PARP inhibitor is a type of targeted therapy is being studied for the treatment of triple-negative breast cancer.
PARP inhibitor is a type of targeted therapy that block DNA repair and can cause cancer cells to die. PARP inhibitor therapy is being studied for the treatment of triple-negative breast cancer.
There are also may other ways to manage your treatment. Talk with your doctor to find the best treatment plan for you.