Breast Cancer Treatment
A breast cancer diagnosis triggers many emotions. The feeling of powerless shouldn’t be one of them. There are many differences between types of breast cancers and one person’s treatment plan will be different from another. Your physicians may consider some or all the following treatments: surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and hormone therapy.
Surgical Treatments for Breast Cancer
- Breast Conserving Surgery: With this type of surgery, the breast is not removed.
- Lumpectomy: This surgery removes only the breast lump and some normal tissue around it.
- Partial (segmental) mastectomy or quadrantectomy: This surgery removes more of the breast tissue than a lumpectomy.
- Mastectomy: Mastectomy is surgery to remove the entire breast. All of the breast tissue is removed, sometimes along with other nearby tissues.
- Total (also called simple) mastectomy: In this surgery, the entire breast is removed, but not the lymph nodes under the arm or the muscle tissue beneath the breast. Sometimes both breasts are removed. For some patients who are planning on having reconstructive surgery right away, a skin-sparing mastectomy can be performed. In this procedure, most of the skin over the breast (other than the nipple and areola) is left intact. This can work as well as a simple mastectomy. Although this approach has not been used for as long as the more standard type of mastectomy, many patients prefer it because there is less scar tissue and the reconstructed breast seems more natural.
- Modified radical mastectomy: This surgery involves removing the entire breast and some of the lymph nodes under the arm.
- Radical mastectomy: This is a major operation where the surgeon removes the entire breast, underarm lymph nodes, and the chest wall muscles under the breast. This surgery is rarely done now because modified radical mastectomy has proven to work just as well. It may still be done for large tumors that are growing into the muscles and under the breast.
- Nipple-sparing mastectomy: This procedure is more often an option for patients who have a small early stage cancer near the outer part of the breast, with no signs of cancer in the skin or near the nipple.
- Reconstructive or breast implant surgery: After having a mastectomy (or some breast-conserving surgeries) a patient may want to have the breast mound rebuilt. These operations are done to restore the way the breast looks. If you are having breast surgery and are thinking about having breast reconstruction, we can arrange for you to talk to a plastic surgeon before your operation.
Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer
Radiation therapy is administered at CentraState’s Karen Olbis Radiation Oncology Center. Our Radiation Oncology Center has earned full accreditation by the American College of Radiology for expertise in Radiation Therapy.
The center is fully equipped with state of the art equipment, plus highly trained and experienced physicians, physicists, dosimetrists, therapists and oncology certified nurses. Therapeutic radiation approaches for breast cancer include:
- External beam radiotherapy (EBR): Uses a special machine (linear accelerator) to deliver high doses of radiation to the site while limiting exposure to healthy tissues and organs and minimizing side effects. Includes:
- 3-D conformal radiotherapy
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
- Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT)
- Internal radiation which includes High Dose Rate (HDR)
- Mammosite: Places the radiation source inside the lumpectomy cavity (the space left when the tumor is removed). This delivers radiation to the area where the cancer is most likely to recur. This therapy is highly targeted, so you can be done with radiation in five days versus several weeks. It is an outpatient procedure.
- Prone breast radiotherapy: Women are positioned on their stomachs during radiation therapy to minimize potentially unnecessary radiation to the heart and lung.
- Proton therapy: Proton therapy can be used to treat non-metastatic breast cancers that are stages I—III after mastectomy or lumpectomy.
Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer
Chemotherapy is provided at the Jean Mehr Infusion Therapy Center offered through CentraState Medical Center’s Pharmacy Department and administered by Magnet-designated nurses credentialed in chemotherapy and certified in cancer care. Chemotherapy uses medicines that kill or halt the growth of cancer cells. This approach is generally used in three ways:
- Adjuvant chemotherapy—Chemotherapy is given after surgery to patients whose cancer does not appear to have spread.
- Neoadjuvant chemotherapy—Chemotherapy is given to patients before surgery to help shrink large cancers so they are small enough to be removed by lumpectomy instead of mastectomy.
- Chemotherapy for advanced breast cancer—Chemotherapy can also be used as the main treatment for women with cancer that has already spread outside the breast and underarm area at the time it is found, or if it spreads after the first treatments.
Clinical Trials for Breast Cancer
Some patients may be eligible to participate in breast cancer clinical trials in which they receive an emerging breast cancer treatment before it becomes publicly available. Talk to your oncologist or surgeon to learn more. You may also want to speak with your cancer navigator.