Published on September 26th, 2013 | by dc


Exploring Options For Treatment Of Breast Cancer

Modern medicine offers a variety of options for treatment of breast cancer. Physicians make recommendations to their patients based on the extent of their disease, the tumor size, other health issues, and the individual’s preferences. The chance and extent of recovery depend on whether the disease has spread to additional areas, the tumor’s growth rate, and various other factors.

Lobular carcinoma affects the milk-producing lobules while ductal carcinoma involves the ducts responsible for transporting milk to the nipples. Ductal carcinoma is the more common of these two types. Breast cancer that remains confined to the ducts and lobules is classified as noninvasive. In some cases, the disease becomes invasive and spreads to other tissues.

Local treatments eliminate diseased portions of the breasts and the surrounding lymph nodes if the disease has spread. A radical mastectomy is a surgical procedure that results in removal of the entire breast. Less invasive techniques eliminate the tumor and only a small portion of the surrounding tissue. Sometimes the surgeon removes the lymph nodes when necessary.

Radiation therapy targets and kills cancerous cells or prevents them from multiplying and growing. Radiation often takes place after a lumpectomy or mastectomy to reduce the risk of recurrence. These treatments typically commence within weeks of surgery after some healing has taken place. Patients usually receive radiation therapy every day for up to several weeks.

Systemic treatments target diseased cells in other areas of the body. Patients may take these drugs before or after any local remedy. When taken after they will destroy any remaining undetectable cells.

Hormone therapy prevents estrogen and other hormones from stimulating cancerous cell growth. ER-positive women have tumors containing estrogen receptors and respond better to this treatment than women found to be ER-negative. Hormone therapies block estrogen production to halt the tumor’s growth.

Patients of all ages can take the estrogen-blocking drug Tamoxifen. Aromatase inhibitors are only effective when used to treat postmenopausal women. They inhibit the action of aromatase enzyme, which the body uses to produce estrogen. Women at any stage of the disease can benefit from taking aromatase inhibitors.

Temporary or permanent ovarian ablation may be an option for premenopausal women. The goal is to prevent the ovaries from making estrogen. Taking a luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonist temporarily blocks ovarian function to prevent estrogen release. Additional options include radiation therapy targeting the ovaries or a surgical procedure to remove them.

Chemotherapy often involves a mixture of drugs that kill carcinoma cells or slow their rate of growth. Patients take some drugs orally but others are introduced directly into the circulation system with an IV. Cycles of therapy alternate with recovery periods for several months up to one year. Some patients benefit from chemotherapy before surgery because it shrinks the tumor and allows for a less invasive procedure.

Treatment of breast cancer varies from patient to patient. Each option has its own advantages and possible side effects. A qualified oncologist will consult with the individual and other specialists to create an effective plan.

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