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Once breast cancer has been diagnosed and staged, your oncologist may recommend one or more of the following treatments.
Surgery may be needed to remove cancerous tissue from the breast and breast area. Depending on the size and location of the tumor, your doctor may recommend one of the following options:
- Mastectomy involves removal of the entire affected breast.
- Partial (Segmental) Mastectomy involves removing a part of the affected breast, depending on the size and location of the tumor.
- Lumpectomy involves removing only the breast lump and a small surrounding area (margin) of normal tissue.
In some cases, your surgical plan might include the removal of lymph nodes from the breast region and the underarm area, as cancerous cells may gather in these nodes.
Surgery is often followed by a course of radiation therapy or chemotherapy to kill any remaining cancer cells. Your oncologist will also begin discussing plans for breast reconstruction to follow the tumor removal surgery if needed.
Radiation therapy is one of the most effective ways to destroy cancer cells in the breast that might remain after surgery. It uses a high-energy beam to damage cancer cells’ DNA, the material that causes the cells to divide.
Many different types of radiation can be employed, depending on the size and location of the tumor. Houston Methodist offers innovative radiation therapies. More on radiation therapy
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells and may be recommended in combination with surgery or other methods of treating breast cancer. Methodist Cancer Center offers a complete spectrum of chemotherapy medications, including the most advanced forms currently available. Many options have few troublesome side effects, helping to make the process of receiving chemotherapy easier than it once was.
Your medications may be administered intravenously through an IV line or via oral medication. You may receive your treatments at the hospital, in your oncologist’s office or, if oral therapy is prescribed, at home. Chemotherapy is usually administered in cycles, with each period of treatment followed by a period of rest.
If chemotherapy is part of your treatment plan, your care team will discuss the medications, any side effects and the ways in which we can support you and your family during your course of treatment. More on chemotherapy
A welcome advance in breast cancer research is targeted therapy, which uses medications developed to target specific cellular problems that cause or advance cancer growth, such as certain proteins or new blood vessel growth in tumors.
Targeted therapy medications have a minimal effect on other cells in the body, which means fewer side effects, and are most effective when combined with other treatments such as chemotherapy. Like chemotherapy, these drugs may be taken in pill form or given to you intravenously at your oncologist's office.
Since estrogen and progesterone, the female hormones produced by the ovaries, can promote the development or return of most breast cancers, your treatment plan may include hormone therapy. This involves taking one or more medications daily either (a) to either prevent these hormones from affecting the body as they normally would, or (b) to stop the ovaries from producing those hormones altogether. Your doctor will work with you to find the most effective therapy combination for you while minimizing uncomfortable side effects.
Every woman should know that breast reconstructive surgery is an option for her. Methodist Cancer Center can help connect patients to reconstructive surgeons at Houston Methodist Hospital and will work to coordinate your cancer treatment with the reconstructive procedure. Learn more about the Center for Breast Restoration
Learn more about breast cancer:
- About Breast Cancer
- Preventing Breast Cancer
- Diagnosing Breast Cancer
- Triple Negative Breast Cancer Clinic
- Breast Health Resources
- Breast Cancer Clinical Trials
For more information about breast cancer treatment at the Methodist Cancer Center or to make an appointment, call us at 713-790-2700.