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First, please note that the information provided in this post regarding breast cancer treatment is general information. It is not intended as medical advice. Any decisions, made by the reader, on medical treatments, after-care or recovery should be done solely upon proper consultation from a qualified physician.
Treatment of breast cancer requires a patient to be managed by a multi-disciplinary team of professionals. A team may consist of surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, oncology nurses, social workers, and counselors. A patients treatment plan is determined by the pathology and behavior of the breast cancer.
The options available for breast cancer treatment depend on (the type of cancer, the stage, the grade, genetic markers and the overall health of the patient). Treatment can involve surgical removal of breast cancer, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, and targeted therapy:
- Surgery: For small and early-stage breast cancers, surgery is a viable option. Lumpectomy, which involves removing the cancer along with a small amount of cancer-free healthy tissue around it, or mastectomy, which involves removing the entire breast, are two surgical options. Along with surgery, a lymph node biopsy or dissection is performed to determine the extent of the cancer and the next course of action.
- Radiotherapy: Radiotherapy uses high energy x-ray or other particles to kill the cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses powerful medicines which help to destroy the cancer cells. It is given in cycles for a few weeks and usually involves a combination of two or more drugs. In some cases, it is given before the surgery to shrink the cancer size.
- Hormonal therapy or endocrine therapy: It is beneficial in cases of breast cancer that are estrogen or progesterone receptor positive. Both early stage and metastatic breast cancer are treated with hormone therapy.
- Targeted therapy: It inhibits the growth of cancer by targeting cancer proteins, genes, and the tissue environment. It is also known as biological therapy because it alters the cell cycle. The therapy works by targeting specific protein receptors found in cancer cells. They aid in the control or slowed progression of cancer.
Treatment Success Rates
The success of breast cancer treatment is heavily influenced by the stage of the disease. The earlier breast cancer is detected, the better the chances of a successful treatment.
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