What are the treatments for breast cancer?
When a woman or man is diagnosed with breast cancer, surgery is the therapy of choice. There are several different types of breast cancer treatments that involve surgery, depending on the type of cancerous tumor, the patient’s overall health, and location and size of the tumor. Most importantly are the patient’s preferences and wishes.
Before surgery, the breast cancer is “staged,” based on which areas of the breast and surrounding areas are involved, how many lymph nodes are affected and how much the cancer has spread to other areas of the body. Surgery is implemented based on the stages.
Treatments for Breast Cancer
In addition to surgery, many women have different treatments, such as chemotherapy, hormone therapy and radiation.
1. Radiation Cancer Treatment
This breast cancer treatment only works on the tumor cells that are left following surgery. Women who have had lumpectomies are good candidates for radiation therapy. Depending on the severity of the cancer, great pains are taken to use only the minimum amount of radiation so that the remaining breast tissue can remain intact. Radiation therapy is usually administered five days per week and can last anywhere from five to six weeks. Though painless and very few side effects, the process can leave a sunburn type of burn and feel to the skin.
2. Chemotherapy Breast Cancer Treatment
This breast cancer treatment method is that of medications, which exterminate the cancer cells or cause them to cease from further growth. There are three different types of chemotherapy.
Presurgical chemotherapy (neoadjuvant chemotherapy): This medication is taken to reduce a sizable tumor and stop or kill cancer cells. When using this treatment, there is hope that surgery alone will take out the cancer.
Adjuvant chemotherapy: This medication is meant to ensure that after a woman has had surgery and radiation, that the cancer will not come back.
Therapeutic chemotherapy: This medication is given to women whose breast cancer has spread beyond the breast.
Most chemotherapy medications are given to women through an IV line, yet some medication is given in pill form. In addition, timing is everything. Chemotherapy is given in “cycles,” which entail a period of aggressive treatment that lasts a few days or weeks, followed by one-to-two weeks of recovery. Women with breast cancer typically receive two to four cycles of chemotherapy treatment at the start. Tests are then performed to see if the treatment is working.
3. Hormonal Therapy
This breast cancer healing method depends upon hormone testing when breast cancer is detected. It is also used to prevent the re-occurrence of breast cancer. If a woman is low on a certain hormone, then that hormone is administered to help stop or keep away the breast cancer. The “bad” hormone that needs to be counteracted with hormone therapy seems to be estrogen. Depending on the woman’s age, estrogen is reduced or counteracted with different drugs geared toward hormone therapy.
The common denominator of getting rid of breast cancer is surgery, whether it be a lumpectomy, mastectomy (removal of breast), or modified radical mastectomy (removal of breast, and underarm lymph nodes).
We hope this information helps you understand what women with breast cancer face. Are you a breast cancer survivor? Do you know someone that has beaten breast cancer? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!
Be healthy women. Do your self-breast exams and get your mammograms!