Procedures

Cancer treatments

Over the recent years, the number of breast cancer treatments has dramatically increased, providing new hope for this common cancer.  In the past, people who were diagnosed with breast cancer only had a few cancer treatments available to them. Today, there are so many cancer treatments available that patients have options in determining the best method of treatment for them.

There are three broad types of cancer treatments, all of which are available at each stage of breast cancer.  Local and regional breast cancer treatments concentrate therapy on the areas of the breasts and surrounding tissues, such as the lymph nodes.  This can include biopsy, lumpectomy, mastectomy, and more.  If the breast cancer has spread (metastasized), local cancer treatments may involve other parts of the body such as the bones, lungs, or other organs.

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The second broad category of cancer treatments is systemic treatments directed at the whole body, instead of just one targeted area.  Examples of systemic cancer treatments include radiation, chemotherapy and hormonal therapy.  Because these cancer treatments affect the whole body, they can produce side effects including hair loss, and other symptoms.  In many cases, these side effects are resolved once treatment is complete.

The third area of cancer treatment is holistic and complementary therapy. These cancer treatments address the body, mind, and spirit.  Acupuncture, herbal medicine, supplements, massage therapy, essential oils, and other alternative therapies may be used as an adjunct therapy in patients with breast cancer.  It is important to speak with your health care provider before beginning alternative therapies to make sure it will be safe and beneficial.

While every patient has some degree of choice when it comes to cancer treatments, there is a standard course of treatment or common pathway that most treatment takes.  Most cancer treatments begin with surgery to remove the cancerous tissues in the body.  The extent and type of surgical procedure used will depend on the stage of the breast cancer and the preference of the patient and her physician.

If chemotherapy is going to be part of a patient's cancer treatments, it often takes place right after surgery.   Radiation usually takes place after chemotherapy or after surgery if no chemotherapy is used.  Hormonal cancer treatments, such as Tamoxifen, are typically administered after these other cancer treatments.

To learn more about cancer treatments, it is helpful to speak with a qualified medical professional who can discuss with you in greater details your treatment options.