Stage-wise Breast Cancer Treatment

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Aug 31, 2012

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Breast cancer is a very complex disease and every woman has a distinct experience of it. Its treatment depends on the stage of breast cancer which is based on the tumour’s size and its spread. Breast cancer treatment by stages involves specific procedures for the basic stages, from 0 to 4, and quite a few sub-stages. [Read: Types of Breast Cancer]


Stage 1 Breast Cancer Treatment


In stage 1 of breast cancer, non-metastasised cancer cells exist which are very small. Lumpectomy or partial mastectomy are some treatment procedures used for a patient in this stage of cancer. Lumpectomy involves removal of the lump of cancerous cells while in partial mastectomy; the cancerous tissue is removed along with some healthy tissues surrounding it. After this surgery, radiation therapy is administered for 6-8 weeks. [Read: What is the expected duration of Breast Cancer?]

Stage 2 Breast Cancer Treatment


In this stage, the same surgery is needed. Lumpectomy with wide local excision needs to be performed. This operation involves removal of tumour and some of the surrounding tissue. Women also have a choice of mastectomy. In any case, the surgeon would remove one or more of lymph nodes. Breast reconstruction surgery would be needed after this surgery.


Stage 3 Breast Cancer Treatment

In stage 3 of breast cancer treatment, the spread of the cancer is to nearby lymph nodes. To treat this, specialised chemotherapy treatment becomes a must. It would be needed to not only destroy cancer cells but to prevent their re-growth. Endocrine therapy may also be used for cancers that are receptive to hormones. [Read: Uses of Chemotherapy]


In such women, the medications can prevent a tumour from getting the hormone that they need. That is why it is advised that such women stay away from cancer drugs such as tamoxifen for pre-menopausal women and the aromatase inhibitors Aromasin, Arimidex, and Femara for post-menopausal women. Thus, in some cases hormone therapy may be more suitable but they should not be used in combination with chemotherapy.


Stage 4 Breast Cancer Treatment

Chemotherapy is used to slow down the cancerous growth. If the cancer has reached the highest stage, i.e. stage four, its use along with other therapies become a must. These include biological therapies or other targeted therapies. For women who are afflicted with cancers that are receptive to hormonal treatment, endocrine therapy is preferred. In them, Aromasin has replaced tamoxifen as first-line therapy in postmenopausal women with breast cancer with a spread. These drugs bring down the amount of oestrogen made by your body. [Read: What is the treatment of Breast Cancer?]


Thus, it is evident the complexities of breast cancer treatment get more and more severe with advance of each stage. That is why it is important that breast cancer is detected is detected as early as possible. [Read: Breast Cancer Diagnosis]


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