What Types of Treatment are there for Breast Cancer?

According to Web MD and authors Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP and medical editor Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

These are some of the treatments for breast cancer:

What is the treatment for breast cancer?

Patients with breast cancer have many treatment options. Most treatments are  adjusted specifically to the type of cancer and the staging group. Treatment options should be discussed with your health care team. Below you will  find the basic treatment modalities used in the treatment of breast cancer. Treatment modalities are always changing and developing. It is important that you  discuss the different options with your health care team.


Most women with breast cancer will require surgery. Broadly, the surgical  therapies for breast cancer can be divided into breast conserving surgery and  mastectomy.

Breast-conserving surgery

This surgery will only remove part of the breast (sometimes referred to as  partial mastectomy). The extent of the surgery is determined by the size and  location of the tumor.

In a lumpectomy, only the breast lump and some surrounding tissue are  removed. The surrounding tissue (margins) is inspected for cancer cells. If no cancer  cells are found, this is called “negative” or “clear margins.” Frequently, radiation therapy is given after lumpectomies.


During a mastectomy (sometimes also referred to as a simple mastectomy), all  the breast tissue is removed. If immediate reconstruction is considered, a skin-sparing mastectomy is sometimes performed. In this surgery, all the breast tissue  is removed as well but the overlying skin is preserved.

Radical mastectomy

During this surgery, the surgeon removes the axillary lymph nodes as well as  the chest wall muscle in addition to the breast. This procedure is done much  less frequently than in the past, as in most cases a modified radical mastectomy  is as effective.

Modified radical mastectomy

This surgery removes the axillary lymph nodes in addition to the breast  tissue.

Depending on the stage of the cancer, your health care team might give you a  choice between a lumpectomy and a mastectomy. Lumpectomy allows sparing of the  breast but usually requires radiation therapy afterward. If lumpectomy is  indicated, long-term follow-up shows no advantage of a mastectomy over the  lumpectomy.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy destroys cancer cells with high energy rays. There are two  ways to administer radiation therapy:

External beam radiation

This is the usual way radiation therapy is given for breast cancer. A beam of  radiation is focused onto the affected area by an external machine. The extent  of the treatment is determined by your health care team and is based on the  surgical procedure performed and whether lymph nodes were affected or not.

The local area will usually be marked after the radiation team has determined  the exact location for the treatments. Usually the treatment is given 5 days a  week for 5 to 6 weeks.


This form of delivering radiation uses radioactive seeds or pellets. Instead  of a beam from the outside delivering the radiation, these seeds are implanted  into the breast next to the cancer.


Chemotherapy is treatment of cancers with medications that travel through the  bloodstream to the cancer cells. These medications are given either by  intravenous injection or by mouth.

Chemotherapy can have different indications and may be performed in different  settings as follows:

Adjuvant chemotherapy: If surgery has removed all the visible cancer, there is  still the possibility that cancer cells have broken off or are left behind. If  chemotherapy is given to assure that these small amounts of cells are killed as  well, it is called adjunct chemotherapy.

Neoadjuvant chemotherapy: If chemotherapy is given before surgery it is  referred to as neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Although there seems to be no advantage  to long-term survival whether the therapy is given before or after surgery,  there are advantages to see if the cancer responds to the therapy and by  shrinking the cancer before surgical removal.

Chemotherapy for advanced cancer: If the cancer has metastasized to distant  sites in the body, chemotherapy can be used for treatment. In this case, the  health care team will need to determine the most appropriate length of treatment.

There are many different chemotherapeutic agents that are either given alone  or in combination. Usually these drugs are given in cycles with certain  treatment intervals followed by a rest period. The cycle length and rest  intervals differ from drug to drug.

More to follow………….


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