The treatment for breast cancer varies according to its type. The type of breast cancer can also be identified by the signs and symptoms shown by the patient. For example, metastatic breast cancer symptoms may include severe pain, thickening of the breast, breathlessness, and extreme fatigue. Once the type of cancer is detected, the treatment targeting the particular type of cancer is started by the doctors.
Types of treatment
- Local treatments: Also known as local therapies, the benefit of these are that they only target the tumor without causing any side effects on the rest of the body. Local treatment includes the following:
- Surgery: When a cancer patient undergoes surgery, the breast surgeon removes the cancer tumor and the surrounding tissue.
- Radiation therapy: Also known as chemotherapy, it is conducted to shrink a cancer tumor.
Surgery and radiation therapy is usually performed at the initial stages of breast cancer.
- Systemic treatments: Systemic therapies consist of giving the patient drugs via mouth or into the bloodstream. This therapy targets the cancer cells present anywhere in the entire body. The drugs prescribed varies according to the type and stage of cancer present in the body. Systemic treatments include the following:
- Hormone therapy. It is generally used after surgery to avoid the risk of recurring cancer, and its effects generally last for five years.
- Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy blocks the growth and also prevents the cancer cells from spreading.
It is essential to remember that it is necessary to discuss the side effects of the treatments as well as its success rate of with the consulting doctor.
Lately, there has been an alarming rate of increase in Human Epidermal Growth Factor (HER2) breast cancer. HER2 breast cancer is more aggressive than other types of breast cancer, and doctors are also researching an effective treatment for this type of cancer. There are various specific drugs designed to treat HER2 breast cancer patients. However, before starting any long-term treatment, it is always advisable to get a second opinion.