In recent years, breast cancer patients have found a new ray of hope i.e. that of survival in the form of various relatively successful treatment options for breast cancer. Given here is a list of type of breast cancer treatments that an oncologist recommends depending on the stage, size and location of the tumour while considering a patient’s state of general health and preference.
Surgery is the first line treatment to remove the cancerous tumour from the breast. The factors on which breast cancer surgery depends are:
- stage of the cancer
- type of the breast cancer
- location of the cancer
- patient’s general health condition
- age of the patient.
An oncologist may recommend one or more of these surgeries for breast cancer treatment::
- total mastectomy
- partial or segmental mastectomy
- radical mastectomy
- modified radical mastectomy
Chemotherapy drugs are used to shrink the tumour and destroy the cancerous cells in the original cancer site and other surrounding sites, if the cancer has metastasised. Chemotherapy for breast cancer uses a chemo drug or a combination of two drugs to be administered to a patient on daily, weekly or monthly basis depending on the size, location and stage of the tumour. This cancer treatment minimises the risk of cancer recurrence and in some cases, is used before surgery to avert the growth of the tumour in the breast.
An oncologist usually uses chemotherapy if the cancer originates in the lymph nodes and can possibly invade the surrounding sites of the affected breast regardless of patient’s menopausal status or size and stage of the breast cancer.
Even after surgery, all cancerous cells are not removed thus, not entirely staving off the risk of recurrence. Radiation therapy or radiotherapy uses high-energy beam to destroy the remaining cancerous cells. The beam, which is invisible to human eyes, targets the location of the remaining cells to damage their DNA. Radiation therapy averts the risk of cancer recurrence by 70 per cent.
As far as the side-effects are concerned, radiotherapy is comparatively easier to tolerate than chemo for the former’s side-effects are often limited to the treated area. A downside to radiotherapy is that it destroys healthy cells while killing the cancerous cells.
Hormonal therapy for breast cancer is given in two ways, namely, by reducing the amount of the female sex hormone i.e. estrogens in the body or by halting the action of estrogens on cancerous cells present in the breast. Hormonal therapy significantly reduces the chances of recurrence of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancers after surgery, but it has been found to be ineffective to treat hormone-receptor-negative breast cancers. Hormonal therapy may be opted to treat breast cancer in both pre/ postmenopausal women. There are three different types of hormonal therapy medicines used to cure breast cancer, namely, aromatase inhibitors, SERMs (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators) and ERDs (Estrogen Receptor Downregulators).
The treatment time for breast cancer treatment may vary depending upon the stage of the cancer and patient’s response to the treatment. Also, cost of each treatment depends on where it is done public or private hospital.
Read more articles on Breast Cancer.