Treatment

Everyone’s treatment is different. To help doctors decide on the best treatment, the stage of the cancer needs to be determined. A scale is used that takes into account the tumour’s size, the sort of cells it’s made from and whether the cancer has spread or not. One or a combination of therapies may be used which should be discussed with the doctor.

MYTH:

Breast cancer lumps are painful and grow fast.


TRUTH:

Breast cancer lumps tend to be painless, hard, fixed in position and persist even after a few menstrual cycles. They usually grow slowly. If you are diagonsed with breast cancer, take a little time to talk to relevant people or even seek a second opinion before deciding on treatment.

 

Surgery

This is the most common treatment for breast cancer and involves two types:

  • Lumpectomy

    The breast lump and some normal tissue around it are removed, with the breast being preserved. Some lymph nodes may be removed as well. Usually only performed for early breast cancer.

  • Mastectomy
    Removal of the entire breast, often including the lymph nodes in the armpit and sometimes the chest wall muscles. Required when the cancer is found in numerous parts of the breast or the cancerous area is large.

Chemotherapy

Drugs, usually in a combination, are given orally or by injection, to kill cancer cells. The drugs enter the bloodstream and travel through the body, and cause temporary side-effects that can be prevented or reduced with appropriate steps. Hence, chemotherapy is given in cycles - a treatment period followed by a recovery period, then treatment again and so on.

Radiation Therapy or Radiotherapy

High-energy x-rays are directed at the breast, to damage cancer cells and stop them from growing. Radiotherapy is almost always recommended with lumpectomy but not always with mastectomy. Temporary side effects can occur which vary from person to person.

Hormonal Therapy

This is used to deprive cancer cells of the hormones they need to grow. Hormonal therapy could involve drugs to change the way hormones work or surgery to remove the ovaries that produce female hormones which and can affect cancer cells. Side effects can occur. These depend on the type of drug used and vary among individuals.

Types of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer occurs when breast cells divide and grow without control, sometimes invading surrounding tissue.

Breast cancer can be classified generally as follows:
  • Non-Invasive Breast Cancer
  • Invasive Cancer
  • Metastatic Breast Cancer

Treatment

Everyone's treatment is different. To help doctors decide on the best treatment, the stage of the cancer needs to be determined.

  • Surgery
  • Lumpectomy
  • Mastectomy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation Therapy or Radiotherapy
  • Hormonal Therapy

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