Today there is a total of 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States, each who have gone through some form of treatment. The goal of treating breast cancer is to get rid of the cancer and to keep it from coming back. The progress in treatment of breast cancer between 1989 and 2014 has led to improved survival rates for people of all ages, races, and stages of breast cancer. Today there are two main kinds of treatment; local and systemic.

Local treatment is meant to remove, destroy or control the cancer cells to a particular area of the body. The common form of procedures for this are surgery and radiation therapy.

  • Surgery: Surgery will be done based off of the type, size and location of the tumor. Additionally, the spread of the tumor will impact the way that you and your doctors choose to approach surgery.
  • Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy uses a form of x-rays that are high energy and localized to target and kill cancer cells. Radiation may be used before or after surgery to shrink and kill the cells.

Systemic treatment looks at destroying or controlling cancer cells throughout the body. The common forms of systemic treatment are chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy.

  • Chemotherapy: A strong drug or combination of drugs that kill or disable cancer cells. The decision to use chemotherapy is based on stage and tumor characteristics, but may be used to assist in lowering the risk of reoccurrence.
  • Hormone Therapy: Hormone therapies target cancer cells by preventing them from receiving the hormones they need to grow. By preventing the hormones from reaching the cancer cells, the cell growth slows or stops.
  • Targeted Therapy: A drug that is used to attack a particular molecular agent or pathway on the cancer cell while causing less damage to healthy cells in the body. These therapies are built for specific markers and offers promise for future breast cancer treatments as research continues.

In addition to the procedures to treat cancer cells, palliative care and supportive care are important aspects of breast cancer treatment.

To learn more about the types of treatments that are used against breast cancer, click here.

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