Treating Breast cancer

Fighting breast Cancer

Breast cancer Awareness

What Are The Best  Breast Cancer Treatments? 

Treatment Options

Your breast cancer treatment plan

Your breast cancer treatment plan is based on both medical and personal choices.

Together, you and your health care provider make breast cancer treatment decisions. After you get a recommended treatment plan from your provider, take time to study your treatment options and make thoughtful, informed decisions. Each treatment option has risks and benefits to consider along with your own values and lifestyle.

Your treatment is tailored to:

  • Your specific breast cancer (the biology of the tumor)
  • The stage of the breast cancer
  • Your overall health, age and other medical issues
  • Your personal preferences

Because of the differences between tumors and between people, your treatment plan may differ from another’s, even though you both have breast cancer.

Breast cancer treatment can be divided into local and systemic therapy.

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The Importance Of Treatments

 
 

The importance of following your breast cancer treatment plan

Completing your breast cancer treatment plan (called adherence or compliance) is very important. People who complete the full course of treatment have a higher chance of survival.

Sometimes completing your treatment plan may be hard, but there are things you can do to make it easier.

First, tell your health care provider right away if you have any side effects. Your provider may be able to help. Having fewer side effects can help you complete your treatment plan.

Sticking to your treatment plan can be very hard for long-term treatments, such as hormone therapy.

Planning ahead can help you juggle your treatment and daily life. For example, if you have trouble remembering to take your medicine, a daily pillbox or setting an alarm on your watch or mobile device (you may be able to download an app) may help [1].

 

ALWAYS REMEMBER: Early Detection is Critical For Survival

Types Of Therapy

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Standard Treatment are methods experts have
approved, accepted and are widely used

Local Therapy

Surgery

How Will I Know What Kind Of Surgery Is Right For Me?

Either your doctor or a breast surgical oncologist (a breast surgeon specializing in breast cancer surgeries) will advise you regarding the surgery options to consider based on specific information about your breast cancer. You can discuss and compare the benefits and risks of each option and describe how well each possible choice can achieve the goal of ridding your body of the primary breast cancer.

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Lumpectomy

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Mastectomy

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While radical mastectomies are less common today, there are instances in which this surgery is the best option to treat the cancer.

Lymph Node Removal

In addition to your surgical procedure, such as a lumpectomy or mastectomy, your doctor may wish to remove and examine lymph nodes to determine whether the cancer has spread and to what extent. Your doctor will use one of two procedures for this, either a sentinel lymph node biopsy/removal or an axillary node dissection. We’ll define these terms below.

How Does The Lymph System Relate To Breast Cancer?

Although breast cancer is not easily controlled, the spread of breast cancer is sometimes predictable. The cancer cells spread through a customary path, out from the tumor and into the surrounding lymph nodes, before they progress throughout the body.

What is the sentinel node?

The sentinel lymph node (and in some cases there are several grouped together) is the first node “downstream” from the cancer in the lymph circulatory system. If the cancer were to travel away from the breast tumorand into the lymphatic system, this node would be the first one to show evidence of breast cancer.

 
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Sentinel Node Biopsy

What Is A Sentinel Node Biopsy?

A sentinel lymph node biopsy is a procedure to examine the lymph node closest to the tumor because this is where the cancer cells have most likely spread. First, the surgeon will want to identify the “sentinel lymph node,” the lymph node (or nodes) closest to the tumor. To be able to identify the sentinel lymph node, the surgeon will inject dye or radioactive substances into the tissue near the tumor. The lymph nodes that are the most susceptible to the cancer’s spread will be marked by the dye or radioactive substance. During surgery, the nearest lymph nodes will be removed and checked for the presence of cancer cells.

A biopsy is nearly always taken from the sentinel node, and the breast surgeon typically removes the sentinel node as well for dissection.

 

What Is An Axillary Node Dissection?

This procedure is a method for determining if the cancer has spread to more than one of your lymph nodes. Axillary node dissection removes some of the the axillary lymph nodes, which are the lymph nodes located in the underarm. Once removed, they are dissected and examined.

Do The Lymph Nodes Always Need To Be Removed?

Not always, especially when there is no evidence of any cancer in the lymph system. A mastectomy or lumpectomy operation will most often include either a sentinel node biopsy or an axillary node dissection. Both procedures involve a separate incision for lumpectomy patients. Following surgery, the pathologist will test the lymph nodes to determine whether the cancer has spread past the breast. When some evidence of cancer is found in the lymph system, recents standards are as follows:

For patients who are having a lumpectomy and the sentinel node is positive for cancer:

Effective in mid 2012, the standard of care was changed to no longer require women with early stage breast cancers to have a full dissection and removal of the lymph nodes under the arm. Instead radiation to the underarm can be planned.

For patients who are having a mastectomy surgery and have a positive sentinel node:

For these women, the standard of care remains the same, calling for the node removal and dissection of the axillary (or underarm) nodes. The additional nodes removed at the time of the breast cancer surgery will be examined by the pathologist in the following days to determine if others beyond the sentinel node contained cancer or not. If cancer cells are found in those lymph nodes, other cancer treatments will be considered.

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The risk of developing lymphedema
continues for the rest of your life.

Lymphedema

What Is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is a chronic condition that is caused by a disruption or damage to the normal drainage pattern in the lymph nodes.  It most often causes swelling of the arm, but it can also affect the breast, chest, and sometimes even the legs. The swelling, caused by an abnormal collection of too much fluid, is called lymphedema.  Removing the axillary lymph nodes increases your risk for developing lymphedema.

The risk of developing lymphedema continues for the rest of your life, so it is imperative that you are aware of these risks.  Often it is best to learn about preventative measures for lymphedema before surgery so you will know the signs and symptoms to look for and can discuss treatment options with your physician.

After lymph node surgery, if you experience unusual and painful swelling, you should immediately notify your doctor to monitor it. There is no cure for lymphedema, but your doctor can take steps to reduce swelling and maintain that reduction. With proper health care, good nutrition, and exercise, it may be possible for you to reduce the effects of lymphedema.

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Palliative care is a very important part of your treatment.

Treatment Management

Managing side effects (palliative care) and supportive care

Managing side effects and supportive care are important parts of breast cancer treatment. 

  • Palliative care aims to prevent or relieve side effects (such as pain or nausea).
  • Supportive care includes palliative care as well as care of your emotional, social, spiritual and practical needs.

How age affects your treatment plan

No matter your age, your treatment plan depends on many factors, such as tumor stagetumor gradehormone receptor status and HER2 status

Your overall health and other health conditions also play a role.

For example, if you have heart disease, some medications used to treat breast cancer can do more harm than good.

All of these things, as well as your age, are considered when planning your treatment.

Young women

Young women with breast cancer may have special concerns about early menopause and loss of fertility due to treatment.

Learn about these issues for young women with breast cancer.

Your health care team

Throughout your treatment and beyond, you will get care from many health care providers. 

Your health care team may include: 

  • Physicians involved in cancer treatment (oncologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists)
  • Physicians involved in other care for people with breast cancer (radiologistspathologists, genetic counselors and others)
  • Nurses
  • Dietitians
  • Social workers
  • Physical therapists
  • Palliative care or pain specialists
  • Patient navigators
  • Pharmacists
  • Other providers

These professionals may be involved in your care during diagnosis, treatment and recovery.

The Process

 

Staying organized

It may be helpful to use a notebook, 3-ring binder or other organizer to keep track of your breast cancer treatments and health care team.

You may want to include:

  • A directory of the names, addresses and contact information for your health care team
  • Insurance information
  • Medication lists
  • Pharmacy contact information
  • Other medical information
  • A calendar to help plan and keep track of appointments
  • Blank paper to write down questions and answers or to record any side effects you are having or other information for your health care team
  • Pockets to store materials  

 

The costs related to breast cancer treatment
can quickly become a financial burden.

Financial & Insurance

Insurance issues and financial assistance

Insurance issues (such as what to do if a claim is denied) can be a major concern while you are being treated for breast cancer.

Paying for medications and other out-of-pocket expenses can also be a burden.

Learn about insurance and financial assistance programs.

Transportation, lodging, child care and elder care assistance

If you need help getting to and from treatments or if you (or your family) need a place to stay overnight while getting treatment, there are programs that can help.

There are also programs to help with the cost of child care and elder care while you are undergoing treatment.

Financial Impact Of Breast Cancer

Patient Experiences

Remember: Most hospitals offer Financial Advisors
to help you deal with the treatments finances

What Can be Done To Lower the Costs

Dr. Jay K. Harness

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Articles Sources

Cancer research UK – Treatments

breastcancer.org – Treatment and Side effects

Cancer.net – Breast Cancer  Types Of Treatments

Breast Cancer Care – Going through Breast Cancer Treatment

Maurer Foundation for Breast Health Education – Search: Treatments

American Cancer Society –Treating Breast Cancer

innovation.org – Treatment Approaches

National Health Services UK – Breast Cancer Treatments

Susan G. Komen – Breast Cancer Treatment: Introduction

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