There are two main types of breast cancer: ductal carcinoma (in the milk ducts) and lobular carcinoma (in the lobules). Depending on how sensitive the cancer is to estrogen and progesterone, it can be hormone-negative or hormone-positive. There are different types of treatment available for people with breast cancer, including lumpectomy surgery. The right treatment will vary depending on the type of cancer, its stage, the wishes and health state of the patient, and more.
Once someone receives a diagnosis of breast cancer, a treatment plan will be devised. The goal of treatment is to stop the cancer from spreading, to destroy the cells that have been diseased, and to stop the cancer from coming back. Sometimes, someone only needs one form of cancer, whereas others will need multiple.
Surgical Treatment Methods
Various surgeries exist, including:
- Breast conserving surgery, whereby only part of the breast is removed. This is known as the partial mastectomy or lumpectomy. Sometimes, lymph nodes are also removed as part of the surgery.
- Total mastectomy, whereby the entire breast in which a tumor is found is removed. Lymph nodes are also removed.
- Modified radical mastectomy, whereby a lot of tissue is removed, including lymph nodes, and the chest muscle lining. Sometimes, entire chest wall muscles are also removed.
- Radical mastectomy, whereby the full breast is removed, as well as all the lymph nodes and the chest wall muscles. This is also known as “Halsted radical mastectomy”.
Chemotherapy is designed to kill cancerous cells that are present, and/or preventing further growth. Drugs are administered internally, either through the cerebrospinal fluid or another organ (regional chemotherapy), or through the blood stream (systematic chemotherapy).
With hormone therapy, different hormones that fight against the growth of cancer are introduced to the system. Estrogen, for instance, has increase breast cancer growth down in various studies. Ovarian ablation has also shown to be beneficial, whereby the ovaries are stopped from releasing estrogen. With hormonal therapy, aromatase inhibitors are introduced to the system, which slows estrogen production down. This is only suitable in cases of hormone-positive breast cancer, and in women who have reached the menopause. Tamoxifen is provided to women with metastatic breast cancer, which they usually have to continue for two years.
Radiation therapy targets x-rays at specific parts of the body. This kills cancer cells, as well as stopping them from growing.
Through this type of therapy, only the cancerous cells are targeted, meaning that the healthy cells are left intact. There are two main types, being tyrosine kinase inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies.
Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis is a horrible shock. However, the disease is no longer the killer that it used to be. If caught early, treatment has been shown to be highly effective, with excellent survival rates. It is incredibly important, however, to learn how to look out for the signs of breast cancer, so that it can be caught early and get successful treatment.