This information is an interpretation of various studies that have been published in medical journals. The information below represents various views of nurses and doctors who serve on the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Information Database Editorial Board.
Keep in mind that the information provided in this article is not designed to be taken as medical advice or to replace the opinion and judgment of your personal cancer care team. It is simply designed to help you make informed decisions together with your doctor.
The general treatment options that will be discussed may not be what your doctor recommends, and there may be various reasons why. You should take the time to find out what specific treatments doctors recommend for you.
This type of therapy is used to treat a tumor that is at the site, and the goal is to not affect the rest of your body. An example of local therapies includes radiation therapy and surgery.
The goal is to not affect the rest of your body.
When you hear the term systemic therapy, then this refers to drugs that patients can take orally or they are administered directly into the bloodstream. The intention is for it to reach the cancer cells, regardless of where they are located in the body. Some examples of this type of therapy include hormone therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy.
Sometimes a person will have no cancer that can be detected after they have received surgery. When this happens, they will usually be given additional treatment, which is designed to prevent cancer from returning. This type of therapy is adjuvant therapy.
Cancer cells begin to spread when they break away from the tumor, and these cells cannot be detected via a physical exam. They also cannot be seen in an X-ray, and a patient will usually show no symptoms. These cells are hidden, and this type of therapy can help kill them off.
Even though adjuvant therapy helps many patients, not all patients benefit from it, as there are some factors that play a role in how you might benefit from this therapy. Generally speaking, if you have a larger tumor, there is a chance that the cancer cells have spread via the bloodstream; If this is the case, then you might benefit from adjuvant therapy.
Before a person receives surgery, they may receive chemotherapy or hormone therapy. This is designed to try to shrink the tumor, and this is neoadjuvant therapy. One of the best things about this form of therapy is that it lowers your chances of the cancer reoccurring again in the future. Usually, those who get neoadjuvant therapy won’t need to get adjuvant therapy, but this depends on a few factors.
The next sections will cover some general info in regards to the various types of breast cancer treatment. It will be followed by a discussion in regards to the treatment options that are based on what stages the cancer is at. Just keep in mind that the info that will be discussed, as well as the info that has already been discussed, is for informational purposes only.