Breast cancer can be treated in a few different ways. There are the standard breast cancer treatments and those that are currently tested in clinical trials. If clinical trials prove that the new treatment is better than the older one it will be included in standard treatment.
Standard Breast Cancer Treatments
There are five types of standard treatment:
There are different types of breast cancer surgical procedures that differ depending on the amount of breast tissue that is removed. Commonly, lymph nodes under the arm are removed to be tested for the presence of cancer cells. This procedure is called lymph node dissection.
There are several procedures that can be used for the treatment of breast cancer. Breast-conserving surgery includes removal of malignant tumor but not the whole breast:Lumpectomy - a surgeon removes the cancerous area and small amount of surrounding normal tissue. Partial mastectomy (segmental mastectomy) – cancerous area is removed and larger amount of normal tissue around it. Other types of surgery are:Total or simple mastectomy – a surgery that removes the entire breast but the lymph nodes are not removed. Modified radical mastectomy – in a procedure all of the breast tissue is removed as well as some of the lymph nodes and the lining over the chest muscles. Radical mastectomy (Halsted radical mastectomy) – a surgeon removes the breast, all lymph nodes under the arm and chest wall muscles under the breast. Breast reconstruction can be performed immediately after mastectomy or some time in the future. It can be done with implants or patient’s own tissue from other parts of the body. Breast cancer surgery can be followed by adjuvant therapy that involves other cancer treatments such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormone therapy to kill cancer cells that might have remained.
Radiotherapy aims to destroy cancer cells in the breast that may have left after the surgery, with the help of high-energy X-rays. There are two types of radiotherapy: external radiotherapy, where machine sends radiation toward the aimed area, and internal radiotherapy which is given from inside the body.
It is a treatment with drugs given to kill cancerous cells. Systematic chemotherapy involves giving the drugs either orally or by injecting them into the vein or muscle. When the chemicals are given directly into the cerebrospinal fluid or the abdomen it is called regional chemotherapy.
Hormone Therapy This therapy is given to add, block or remove hormones. In women, estrogen and progesterone are hormones that promote growth of breast cancer cells. Hormone therapy includes administration of drugs to inhibit production of these hormones. Common hormone therapy drugs used for breast cancer treatment include: tamoxifen, Fareston, Arimidex, Aromasin, Femara and Zoladex.