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Breast Cancer Treatment: The Options

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After your breast cancer has been diagnosed, your healthcare team will recommend treatment. There are five standard treatment options for breast cancer: surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapies, radiation, and hormonal therapy. Learn about each one and how a decision on which is right for you is made.
  1. Surgery
  2. Radiation
  3. Chemotherapy
  1. Hormonal Therapy
  2. Targeted Biologic Therapies
  3. Cope With Side Effects of Treatment

Surgery

The goals of breast cancer surgery are to remove the cancerous tissue and to analyze it for type, grade, size, hormonal status, and possible metastasis (if the cancer has spread). There are both diagnostic and therapeutic surgeries, as well as reconstruction options. Learn about biopsy types, lumpectomy, quadrantectomy, and mastectomy.

Radiation

Contura Multi-Lumen Brachytherapy Balloon

Cancer cells grow and divide much more quickly than healthy cells, and their internal functions are not well organized. This makes them more susceptible to damage from radiation treatment, and therefore less able to repair themselves and recover. That is the reason that they are destroyed by the radiation.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy Nurse and IV Bags

Cancer is uncontrolled cell growth, and chemotherapy targets rapidly diving cells throughout your body. Chemotherapy is considered systemic therapy because, like systemic (metastatic) cancer, it goes everywhere in your body's systems. Chemotherapy is used to kill cancer cells and prevent recurrence.

Hormonal Therapy

Breast cancers are frequently dependent on estrogen for their growth. Anti-estrogen hormone therapy starves tumor cells of the estrogen they need to grow, resulting in cancer cell death. This type of therapy may be delivered before surgery, or at the same time as radiation. You may need to take hormonal therapy for five years after you're finished with primary treatment to prevent the cancer from coming back.

Targeted Biologic Therapies

Targeted Biologic Therapies are drugs that can be added to chemotherapy, to target specific cancer cells. Herceptin, Avastin, and Tykerb are all approved for use as targeted therapies for breast cancer.

Cope With Side Effects of Treatment

Chemo Decision

Cancer treatments can cause side effects, which in turn, need to be treated or prevented. You don't have to just grit your teeth and suffer - here are common side effects and ways to get help for them. Here's some advice on ways to care for yourself and recover from side effects of chemo and radiation for breast cancer.

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