@Treatments of Breast Cancer@
***Breast Cancer Treatment by Stage***
Once breast cancer has been found, it is staged. Through staging, the doctor can tell if the cancer has spread and, if so, to what parts of the body. More tests may be performed to help determine the stage. Knowing the stage of the disease helps the doctor plan treatment.
The choice of treatment for breast cancer depends on a woman's age and general health, as well as the type, the stage, and location of the tumour, and if the cancer has remained in the breast or has spread to other parts of the body. There are a number of treatments, but the ones women choose most often - alone or in combination - are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy.
Standard cancer treatments are generally designed to surgically take out the cancer; stop cancer cells from getting the hormones they need to survive and grow through hormone therapy; use high-energy beams to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors through radiation therapy and use anti-cancer drugs to kill cancer cells through chemotherapy.
However, the current view holds that cancer is a systemic disease involving a complex spectrum of host-tumor relationships, with cancer cells spread via the bloodstream, and therefore variations in local or regional therapy are unlikely to affect a patient's survival. Rather, the cancer must be attacked systemically, through the use of radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and immunotherapy.
For women with early-stage breast cancer, one common available treatment is a lumpectomy combined with radiation therapy. A lumpectomy is surgery that preserves a woman's breast. In a lumpectomy, the surgeon removes only the tumor and a small amount of the surrounding tissue. The survival rate for a woman who has this therapy plus radiation is similar to that for a woman who chooses a radical mastectomy, which is complete removal of a breast.
If the breast cancer has spread locally - just to other parts of the breast - treatment may involve a combination of chemotherapy and surgery. Doctors first shrink the tumor with chemotherapy and then remove it through surgery. Shrinking the tumor before surgery may allow a woman to avoid a mastectomy and keep her breast.
If the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the lung or bone, chemotherapy and/or hormonal therapy might be used to destroy cancer cells and control the disease. Radiation therapy may also be useful to control tumors in other parts of the body.
Because 30% of breast cancers recur, the National Cancer Institute urges all women with breast cancer to have chemotherapy or hormone therapy following surgery, even if there is no evidence that the cancer has spread. Such systemic adjuvant therapy, as it is called, can prevent or delay about one-third of recurrences.
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