Breast cancer treatment is improving all the time. Today, there are more options available than there were in the past. With so many choices, it’s a good idea to learn as much as possible about the options so you can work with your doctor to decide one is right for you.
What Are Localized Treatments?
Some treatments are known as “localized,” which means that they treat the tumor without affecting any other part of the body. Typically, some form of surgery is needed to remove cancer. However, the type of cancer you have and what stage it’s in will determine whether you’ll also need another treatment.
The goal of surgery is to remove as much of the cancer as possible. Your doctor may also conduct surgery to find out if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes under your arms or to relieve symptoms of advanced cancer. After you’ve fought off the breast cancer symptoms, you may also need breast reconstruction surgery.
There are two main types of surgery for breast cancer:
- A lumpectomy occurs when the tumor and a small area of normal tissue from around it are removed. In doing so, most of your breast and its skin are preserved.
- A mastectomy is the surgical removal of your entire breast. Unfortunately, there are times when this is the only option.
What Are Systemic Treatments?
Systemic therapy uses drugs to treat cancer. These drugs are considered systemic because they’re able to reach cancer cells in any part of your body. They can either be given by mouth or inserted directly into your bloodstream. Some of the different types of drug treatments you may receive include:
- Chemotherapy can be used either before or after surgery. It is either given orally or intravenously (injected into your vein). The anti-cancer drugs will then travel throughout your bloodstream to reach the cancer cells located in various parts of your body. When given after surgery, these drugs kill off any cancer cells that may have been left behind. When chemotherapy is given before surgery, it is to shrink the tumor so that less extensive surgery is necessary.
- Hormone therapy works by targeting your estrogen and progesterone. These chemicals are responsible for helping breast cancer grow. Hormone therapy reduces cancer growth by stopping the cancer from attaching to the hormones. Typically, this is used for 5 to 10 years after surgery to reduce the likelihood that the cancer will return.
- Targeted therapy uses drugs that specifically target the changes caused by breast cancer. This sounds a lot like chemotherapy since both types of drugs enter your bloodstream and reach almost every part of your body. However, targeted therapy may work in cases that chemotherapy doesn’t work. Targeted therapy can also help other types of therapy work better.
- Immunotherapy for breast cancer uses medication to stimulate your immune system so that it will effectively recognize and destroy cancer cells. This type of biological therapy works by activating your immune system. In doing so, these medications will either elicit or amplify an immune response. When it comes to cancer, the hope is that the immune system will destroy the cancer cells. This is still a relatively new treatment modality and it will take some time to see how well it works.
If you have breast cancer symptoms and need help deciding which breast cancer treatment is right for you, BASS Medical Group can help. Their elite team is made up of doctors who are experts in their respective fields. BASS Medical Group has many convenient locations in the greater San Francisco area. Call (925) 350-4044 to learn more or schedule an appointment.