Breast Cancer Treatment
The mainstay of breast cancer treatment is surgery when the tumor is localized, with possible adjuvant hormonal therapy, chemotherapy, and/or radiotherapy. At present, the treatment recommendations after surgery (adjuvant therapy) follow a pattern. Depending on clinical criteria (age, type of cancer, size, metastasis) patients are roughly divided to high risk and low risk cases which follow different rules for therapy.
The mainstay of breast cancer treatment is surgery when the tumor is localized, with possible adjuvant hormonal therapy, chemotherapy, and/or radiotherapy. At present, the treatment recommendations after surgery (adjuvant therapy) follow a pattern. Depending on clinical criteria (age, type of cancer, size, metastasis) patients are roughly divided to high risk and low risk cases which follow different rules for therapy. Treatment possibilities include Radiation Therapy, Chemotherapy, Hormone Therapy, and Immune Therapy.Information on Breast Cancer Treatments
SurgeryDepending on the staging and type of the tumor, just a lumpectomy (removal of the lump only) may be all that is necessary or removal of larger amounts of breast tissue may be necessary. Surgical removal of the entire breast is called mastectomy. Standard practice requires that the surgeon must establish that the tissue removed in the operation has margins clear of cancer, indicating that the cancer has been completely excised. If the tissue removed does not have clear margins, then further operations to remove more tissue may be necessary. This may sometimes require removal of part of the pectoralis major muscle which is the main muscle of the anterior chest wall.
Chemotherapy Chemotherapy can be given both before and after surgery. Neo-adjuvant chemotherapy is used to shrink the size of a tumor prior to surgery. Adjuvant chemotherapy is given after surgery to reduce the risk of recurrence. Cancer cells usually grow more rapidly than normal cells, and chemotherapy drugs work against them by interfering with their growth and reproduction.
Radiation TherapyRadiation therapy consists of the use of high powered X-rays or gamma rays (XRT) that precisely target the area that is being treated. These X-rays or gamma rays are very effective in destroying the cancer cells that might recur where the tumor was removed. These X-rays are delivered by a machine called a linear Accelerator or LINAC. Alternatively, the use of implanted radioactive catheters, similar to those used in prostate cancer treatment, is being evaluated. The use of radiation therapy for breast cancer is usually given after surgery has been performed and is an essential component of breast conserving therapy. The purpose of radiation is to reduce the chance that the cancer will recur.
Hormonal TreatmentHormonal therapy is a very effective treatment against breast cancer that is hormone-receptor-positive. Find out if you should be tested to see if you need other therapies, as well. Sometimes called "anti-estrogen therapy," hormonal therapy blocks the ability of the hormone estrogen to turn on and stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells. Tamoxifen is the drug most commonly used to block estrogen receptors on cancer cells, in effect, denying them the estrogen they need to grow and multiply.
Herceptin Herceptin is the first humanized antibody approved for the treatment of HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer. Herceptin is designed to target and block the function of HER2 protein overexpression. Research has shown that HER2-positive breast cancer is a more aggressive disease with a greater likelihood of recurrence, a poorer prognosis, and a decreased chance of survival compared with HER2-negative breast cancer.
Comprehensive Breast CentersWomen with breast cancer increasingly are choosing to be treated at comprehensive breast centers that offer up-to-date treatments and the specialists that can provide them. Learn more information on breast cancer and the latest technologies.
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