Breast cancer treatment often involves more than one approach. The treatment plan your doctor suggests will be based on several factors, such as:
• The stage of the cancer.
• The size of the tumor compared to the size of your breast.
• The type of breast cancer.
• Whether you have reached menopause.
• Your general health.
Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor lots of questions. The better you understand your options, the easier it will be for you to make an informed choice about treatment.
After breast cancer is found, your doctor will need to learn the extent of the cancer.
This is called staging.
Many tests may be used to learn this information. A woman’s treatment options depend greatly on the cancer stage.
Often the stage is not known until after a woman has surgery to remove the cancer from her breast.
Types of treatment
Surgery: Many women are able to have surgery that removes the cancer but leaves the breast intact. Other women may have their entire breast removed. Plastic surgery to rebuild the breast often can be done at the same time as breast cancer surgery.
Radiation therapy: High-energy X-rays or other types of radiation are used to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing.
Chemotherapy: Drugs are used to kill cancer cells or keep them from dividing.
Hormone therapy: Hormone therapy reduces the body’s ability to make hormones or stops their action to keep cancer from growing.
Targeted therapy: Drugs or other substances are used to find and attack specific cancer cells.