Diseases Cancer

Breast Cancer Treatment Options


Breast cancer treatment options vary based on several factors. Depending on the stage of cancer, the woman's health and medical history, an oncologist will make the determination of which therapy or treatment is best for treating the disease. In most instances, breast cancer treatment options are not limited to just one type of therapy, but usually consist of a combination of therapies. A doctor can provide the best guidance for determining treatment options. Women who are feeling overwhelmed by the breast cancer treatment options should seek the opinion of a second doctor and advice from other women who have had breast cancer. Organizations such as the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation provide help with determining the best course of treatment for breast cancer.


One of the most commonly used breast cancer treatment options is surgery. Surgery options range from removing the breast cancer, the entire breast or the lymph nodes. Removing the cancer, or a lumpectomy, involves just removing the cancerous tumor through a small incision. A mastectomy, or removing the whole breast, is often an option if the cancer is attached to the surrounding tissue and it cannot be easily extracted without the risk of cancerous cells remaining. Some women have opted to have a double mastectomy after a diagnosis of breast cancer in one breast to reduce the chances of the disease recurring. An oncologist may opt to only remove any lymph nodes in the breast or other areas of the body such as the armpit if the cancer has spread.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is also a breast cancer treatment options to kill cancerous cells in the breast. The therapy involves aiming energy beams at the body to reduce the size of a cancerous tumor with the goal of eventually eradicating it. This form of breast cancer treatment option is considered for women who have been diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer and who have tested negative for lymph nodes in other parts of the body. Some oncologists recommend the use of radiation therapy after a lumpectomy or mastectomy to reduce the chances of the disease recurring. Side effects from radiation therapy can range from arm swelling to lung and nerve damage.


Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to eliminate or destroy cancerous cells in the body. As one of the breast cancer treatment options, it is recommended that it is used to reduce the chances of the disease recurring. Chemotherapy can also be given as part of breast cancer treatment for women who have larger tumors. It is usually given prior to surgery. If cancer has spread to other areas of the body, chemotherapy is most likely given to help control the other cancer and decrease its affect on other areas. Side effects of this breast cancer treatment option range from fatigue to nausea. Most women who undergo chemotherapy report significant weight loss and hair loss. In some instances, this particular breast cancer treatment option can lead to an infection. During therapy, the oncologist will perform a series of tests to determine if the dosage needs to be altered or stopped altogether.

By Laurel Moore, published at 02/22/2012
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