This article informs about five types of standard breast cancer treatments available in the present time.
Breast cancer is the cancer which forms in tissues of the breast, generally in the ducts (tubes that carry milk to the nipples) and lobules (glands which secret milk). This cancer can occur in both men and women though male breast cancer is rare. Increasing incidence of breast cancer throughout the world has led to extensive research related to breast cancer treatments. Some of these treatments have been there since years and some others are new breast cancer treatments with advanced technologies and higher chances of treating cancer effectively. These breast cancer treatment options are used as per the stage of cancer determined through proper diagnosis of the symptoms of breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Treatment Options
Breast cancer treatment is always planned on the basis of risk factor and stage of the tumor. Following five types of breast cancer treatments are used as life saving measures for people with breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Surgery
There are two types of surgery for treating breast cancer- Mastectomy and Lumpectomy.
- Mastectomy- In this type of surgery, entire breast is removed to treat breast cancer.
- Lumpectomy- It is also known as breast conserving surgery. Here only the tumor or the lump is removed along with some normal tissue around it in the breast.
Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer
Radiotherapy cancer treatment uses high energy x-rays or other types of radiations to kill cancer cells or to prevent them from growing. It is one of the highly effective targeted breast cancer treatments which destroy such cancer cells that might remain after breast cancer surgery. Radiation therapy is again of two types.
- External Radiation Therapy- A machine outside the body sends radiation towards the cancerous growth.
- Internal Radiation Therapy- Radioactive substances sealed in needles or catheters are placed directly into or near the cancerous growth.
Decision about which type of radiotherapy will be used depends on the type and stage of the breast cancer being treated.
Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer
In this breast cancer treatment, anti cancer drugs are used to kill cancer cells at the original cancer site as well as any cancer cells that may have spread to other parts of the body. Chemotherapy is generally given after surgery but in some cases, it is given before surgery also to shrink the cancerous growth.
Hormonal Therapy for Breast Cancer
In this breast cancer treatment, a drug is given which reduces the amount of oestrogen in the body or blocks the effect of oestrogen. This is because oestrogen facilitates the growth of hormone receptor- positive breast cancers. Hormonal therapy drugs treat hormone receptor- positive breast cancers in two ways- either by lowering the amount of oestrogen in the body or by blocking the action of oestrogen on breast cancer cells.
In some cases of breast cancers, even ovaries and fallopian tubes may be surgically removed to treat hormone receptor- positive breast cancer or as a preventive measure for women at very high risk of breast cancer. Sometimes, ovaries can also be suppressed temporarily with the help of medicines.
Targeted Therapy for Breast Cancer
Specific characteristics of cancer cells are targeted in this breast cancer treatment. For example, a protein that facilitates rapid or abnormal growth of cancer cells may be targeted to treat breast cancer. Targeted therapies are also less likely to harm the normal healthy cells of the body when compared to chemotherapy. There are two types of targeted therapies for treating breast cancer:
- Monoclonal Antibodies- They work like natural antibodies produced by human immune systems against bacteria and viruses. Monoclonal antibodies are made in laboratory by producing multiple copies of single cell. They are designed to recognize a specific protein on certain cells and to signal the body’s immune system to destroy the cell.
- Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors (TKIs)- These small molecule chemical compounds work inside the cells by interfering with the cell communication and growth.
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