Breast Cancer Treatment Options and Information

Senin, 19 November 2012

When faced with a diagnosis of breast cancer, treatment options are a lifeline and offer hope for a future. Ongoing research has expanded breast cancer treatment options to include a variety of effective, life-saving therapies. The most effective treatment(s) for you depends on a number of factors. Most important is the type and stage of cancer, which is as distinctive as you are. Once this has been determined, explore all of the breast cancer treatment options available before deciding which are best for you.

While there are a variety of treatments available, each falls into one of two categories - local and systemic. Local treatments are those which destroy or remove cancer cells from a specific area of the body. Systemic treatments go beyond a localized area and fight cancer cells throughout the entire body. These treatments may be used alone, but are often used together in various combinations. Let's take a closer look at the treatments in each of these categories and how they are used.

Local Treatments

Surgery: Surgery is typically the first local breast cancer treatment used. Surgical procedures are Lumpectomy - the removal of the lump or tumor only. A small amount of tissue around the tumor is usually removed as well. Generally, a lumpectomy is performed when the cancer is found early, the lump is small and in only one part of the breast. Mastectomy - removal of the entire breast. This procedure is usually performed when cancer cells have spread throughout the breast or into other areas of the body.

Radiation: Another local breast cancer treatment, radiation often follows a lumpectomy or mastectomy. It's used to target a specific area and designed to destroy any remaining cancer cells left after surgery. A typical course of treatment is five days a week for up to seven weeks.

Systemic Treatments: Systemic treatments destroy cancer cells throughout the body by traveling through the bloodstream. These treatments are used to get rid of cancer cells that may have spread from the original tumor location to another part of the body. Different therapies may be used to accomplish this.

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is simply the use of drugs to fight cancer cells. There are many different chemotherapy drugs available that may be used alone or in combination depending on the type of cancer. Treatment time frames vary from drug to drug. Some are given daily for a short period of time, while others are given weekly, bi-weekly or even monthly over a period of time.

Hormone Therapy: In some types of cancers, hormones actually help the cancer cells grow. These are known as hormone-receptor-positive breast cancers. The goal of hormone therapy is to keep these hormones from getting to cancer cells. This is done by

1. reducing the amount of estrogen in the body and 2. stopping the estrogen from working.

This therapy doesn't work with cancers that are not affected by hormones.

Targeted Therapies: Targeted therapies are newer breast cancer treatment options. They are drugs that can be combined with chemotherapy to fight a specific characteristic of a cancer cell. For example, a drug that targets a specific protein in a cancer cell may be used to stop the cell from growing. New and promising targeted therapies continue to evolve.

While this is not an all-inclusive list of breast cancer treatment options, it does include the most widely-used treatments available today. If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, learn as much as you can about available treatment options including clinical trials. The more you know, the better equipped you are to select treatments that will work best for you.