Senior Care - How to Provide Elderly Independence

Understanding Some Common Treatment Options For Breast Cancer

by Stephen Silva

Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer prevalent in society. The condition mostly affects women, but it can also occur in men. Some risk factors associated with the disease include age, medical history, and genetics because you are more likely to get the disease if others in your family have had it. However, there are treatment options that can help prevent the spread of the disease and prevent its recurrence. They include: 

Invasive Surgery Depending on Cancer Severity 

Surgery is often the treatment option an oncologist will recommend for their cancer patients. It is viable as a breast cancer treatment when the cancer is in its early stages because it increases the surgical options for a patient. The type of surgery also depends on the size and position of the breast cancer tumor. If the cancer is small, a surgical oncologist will conduct a lumpectomy. That involves cutting out the tumor and some healthy tissue around it and preserving the rest of the breast. However, if the cancer is large, the surgeon will conduct a mastectomy involving removing the entire breast. There are several types of mastectomy, including skin-sparing and nipple-sparing mastectomies, that seek to prevent the total loss of a breast. Patients who feel uneasy about the outcome of a mastectomy can have breast reconstruction surgery, which reshapes the breast using surgical implants or tissue from other body parts.

Radiation Therapy to Kill Cancerous Cells

Radiation therapy involves using high-energy x-rays to kill breast cancer cells. Depending on the outcome of surgery, a radiation oncologist will recommend having several weeks of radiation therapy. There are several types of radiation therapy for breast cancer treatment. They include external-beam radiation therapy, which administers the radiation using a machine outside the body, and brachytherapy, which requires placing radioactive material inside a tumor. For patients who have received a lumpectomy, an oncologist will recommend partial breast irradiation since it only targets the tumor instead of the whole breast, like external-beam radiation. 

Chemotherapy as an Adjunctive Treatment

Chemotherapy is a breast cancer treatment that relies on drugs to kill cancer cells. An oncologist can recommend chemotherapy before or after surgery. Chemotherapy before surgery helps target a large tumor to prevent it from growing or spreading to increase the chances of surgical success. On the other hand, chemotherapy after surgery helps prevent the recurrence of cancer. Chemotherapy can consist of a single drug or multiple drugs administered intravenously through a vein. However, the treatment had several side effects, like nausea, hair loss, weight gain, and early menopause.