The most common cancer to affect women the world over is breast cancer. Before medical science started to focus strongly on this disease, it was pretty much a death sentence. Women who were diagnosed would give up hope, as most people did with various other forms of cancer. Luckily, however, medical science has advanced tremendously, and there are now a lot of treatment options available for those who have received a diagnosis. Which treatment option is best depends on a variety of factors, including the stage at which the cancer is, the specific type of tumor, how the patient’s overall health is, and what characteristics the tumor has. By analyzing these factors, oncologists and other medical specialists will make recommendations in terms of the best type of treatment.
All types of treatment aim to remove the tumor, which is generally done through surgery by a specialist oncologist. This is preceded and/or followed by treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which aims to destroy any remaining cells and to stop the cancer from coming back. The two main types of surgery are:
- The lumpectomy, whereby lumpectomy specialists in Los Angeles, or any other geographical location in which you obtain your treatment, will remove only the area where the tumor is located, rather than the entire breast. In so doing, the cancer itself is removed. This is seen as the best option for early stages cancer and has been shown to be as effective as the mastectomy.
- The mastectomy, whereby the entire breast, or a large part of it, is removed. Exactly how much breast tissue is removed depends on the size of the tumor and which lymph nodes, if any, have been affected. The partial and the total mastectomy are the two most common types.
Other therapies offered before, during, and after surgery include:
- Radiation therapy, which is usually only offered in patients who have had a lumpectomy or a partial mastectomy. This form of treatment sends high energy gamma-rays or x-rays to the affected tissue, destroying any remaining cancer cells. This should stop the cancer from coming back. Patients receive several minutes of treatment five days per week, for a six week period.
- Chemotherapy, whereby patients are administered anticancer drugs, which destroy the cells. This is usually offered when the cancer is more advanced and some of the cells have started to spread. Usually, chemotherapy is offered intravenously, or orally.
Once someone is treated for breast cancer, they will also receive Tamoxifen, which is a form of hormone therapy. This is a compound like estrogen, binding to the estrogen receptors in the breast, stopping them from absorbing further estrogen. Estrogen is known to promote cancer activity in breast tissue. This helps to stop cancer cells from coming back after surgery.
Every day, further research is conducted to improve the available treatment options. It is hoped that, eventually, breast cancer will be stamped out completely. Until then, the focus is strongly on encouraging women to engage in early detection procedures.