Just the Facts: Breast Cancer Treatment
You or a loved one is diagnosed with breast cancer. Now what? It’s important to know that you’re not alone. In 2022, an estimated 287,850 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 51,400 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.1 Don’t be afraid to discuss different treatment options with your doctor – knowledge is power and the more you know, the more confident you’ll feel throughout your breast cancer journey.
What are My Treatment Options?
It’s time to determine the treatment plan with you or your loved one’s doctor. The doctor will recommend the best treatment plan based on the type and stage of cancer, as well as individual factors like your health history. There is no one treatment pathway – for example, cancers detected early may not need chemotherapy whereas more advanced cancers might require more intensive treatment.2
If your doctor recommends chemotherapy, you’ll receive specialized medication to shrink or kill the tumor. Your oncology team will determine the best schedule for your medication to most effectively treat the cancer. Chemotherapy may be given orally, via a topical or through an infusion.3
There are several different surgical options to treat breast cancer, including a traditional lumpectomy, Reconstructive Lumpectomy™ breast cancer surgery and mastectomy.
- If your cancer is early stage, your doctor may recommend a lumpectomy. During the procedure, your surgeon will remove the cancerous tissue and a small amount of healthy tissue around it, known as margins. In most cases, a large section of the natural breast and nipple will not be affected.4
- Reconstructive Lumpectomy™ surgery uniquely combines a lumpectomy with the cosmetic benefits of plastic surgery into the same procedure using Hologic’s products. This procedure can be done for almost any patient that qualifies for breast conserving surgery and will be followed with radiation therapy for those with a higher risk or more advanced stage cancer.3
- A mastectomy is a term for the removal of one or both breasts. Your doctor may recommend a mastectomy if you are at higher risk for your breast cancer spreading or coming back.5
About 2 out of 3 breast cancers are hormone receptor-positive, meaning they use estrogen or progesterone hormones to grow. Hormonal therapy can be used to stop cancer cells from receiving the hormones and slow their spread by blocking or lowering estrogen or progesterone.6
Working with your body’s immune system, biological therapy can fight cancer cells or help improve other treatment side effects. Also known as immunotherapy, the treatment uses drugs to block immune checkpoints, which allows your immune system to react more strongly to the cancer cells.7
Another kind of biological therapy is a t-cell transfer, which involves removing t-cells, a type of white blood cell that fights off diseases, from your tumor, changing them to better fight your cancer and infusing the edited cells into your body. Some patients receive monoclonal antibodies, which are immune system proteins designed to attach to a specific molecule on the cancer cells.7
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to shrink and kill your cancer. Radiation is often utilized after surgery and can help lower the risk of the cancer returning. While painless, the treatment may cause skin irritation among other side effects.8
It’s important to remember that not every treatment may be right for you. Talk to your doctor about what treatment options are best for you and your specific cancer journey.
Disclaimer: The content in this piece is for information purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice. Please contact your medical professional for specific advice regarding your health and treatment. This information may be relevant in the U.S. and other markets and is not intended as a product solicitation or promotion where such activities are prohibited. Because Hologic materials are distributed through websites, eBroadcasts and tradeshows, it is not always possible to control where such materials appear. For specific information on what products may be available in a particular country, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Breast cancer facts and statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved March 21, 2022, from https://www.breastcancer.org/facts-statistics
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, September 20). How is breast cancer treated? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved December 10, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/treatment.htm.
3 Breast cancer – types of treatment. Cancer.Net. (2021, November 16). Retrieved December 10, 2021, from https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/breast-cancer/types-treatment.
4 What is mastectomy? Breastcancer.org. (2020, October 29). Retrieved December 10, 2021, from https://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/surgery/mastectomy/what_is.
5 Understanding chemotherapy. Cancer.Net. (2021, May 3). Retrieved December 10, 2021, from https://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/how-cancer-treated/chemotherapy/understanding-chemotherapy.
6 The American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Hormone therapy for breast cancer. American Cancer Society. Retrieved December 10, 2021, from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/treatment/hormone-therapy-for-breast-cancer.html.
7 Immunotherapy for cancer. National Cancer Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved December 10, 2021, from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types/immunotherapy.
8 DePolo, J. (2021, August 18). Radiation therapy for breast cancer treatment: Types, side effects and more. Breastcancer.org. Retrieved December 10, 2021, from https://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/radiation.
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