In the year 2013, women with breast cancer have more treatment options than ever. This includes surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, hormonal therapy, etc. The right treatment depends on multiple things such as your tumor type, tumor characteristics, and your general overall health.
Most women with breast cancer will have surgery to remove their tumor. Surgery is generally combined with other types of treatment.
Types of surgery used to remove tumors include:
Lumpectomy – Removes only the tumor and a small amount of the tissue surrounding it. This kind of surgery is usually followed by radiation.
Mastectomy – Removes the entire breast that has the tumor. After a mastectomy, reconstructive surgery can rebuild your breast so it is about the same size and shape as it was before.
Reconstructive Options include:
- an implant that is filled with either saline (saltwater) or silicone gel
- tissue transplanted from your own back, belly, or buttock (with or without additional implants)
- a reconstructed breast with a smooth surface
- a reconstructed nipple (tattooed or made from your own transplanted tissue)
For more information about reconstruction click here.
During your surgery you may have your lymph node checked
Sentinel lymph node biopsy – Checks to see if cancer has spread to other parts of the body by removing the first lymph node(s) cancer is likely to travel to.
Axillary Node Dissection -Based on the doctor's physical exam and other indicators about the likelihood that cancer has spread to your lymph nodes, the surgeon will generally remove between five and thirty nodes during a traditional axillary dissection. This is typically done if the sentinel lymph node biopsy is positive for cancer.
Chemotherapy refers to drugs that kill rapidly dividing cells. This type of treatment kills cancer cells, but harms some healthy cells as well, which can lead to various side effects. This is given intravenously.
These are newer drugs designed to kill only cancer cells, not healthy cells. They usually have different side effects than traditional chemotherapy.
Some breast cancers grow in response to the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Hormonal treatments block these hormones or reduce their amount in the body.
Image courtesy of www.breastcancersurgeon.org