Individual Breast Cancer Treatment Options
Each patient receives an individualized treatment plan developed by the breast cancer team. The plan is based on your unique age, life expectancy, health status, lifestyle and personal preferences; the severity of the breast cancer and whether it is a recurrence of a pre-existing cancer; and the potential complications or side effects of each therapeutic approach.
The Breast Cancer Program offers these leading treatments for breast cancer: surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
Breast Conserving Surgery
- Lumpectomy: This surgery removes only the breast lump and some normal tissue around it.
- Partial (segmental) mastectomy or quadrantectomy: This surgery removes more of the breast tissue than a lumpectomy.
Radiation treatment is usually given after both of these surgeries. If chemotherapy is also going to be used, the radiation may be put off until the chemo is finished. Also, in both lumpectomy and partial mastectomy, if cancer is found at the edges of the tissue that was removed, the surgeon may need to go back and take out more tissue.
For most women with stage I or II breast cancer, breast-conservation therapy (lumpectomy/partial mastectomy plus radiation therapy) works as well as mastectomy. Survival rates of women treated with these two approaches are the same.
Mastectomy is surgery to remove the entire breast. All of the breast tissue is removed, sometimes along with other nearby tissues.
- Simple (also called total) mastectomy: In this surgery, the entire breast is removed, but not the lymph nodes under the arm or the muscle tissue beneath the breast. Sometimes both breasts are removed. For some women who are planning on having reconstructive surgery right away, a skin-sparing mastectomy can be performed. In this procedure, most of the skin over the breast (other than the nipple and areola) is left intact. This can work as well as a simple mastectomy. Although this approach has not been used for as long as the more standard type of mastectomy, many women prefer it because there is less scar tissue and the reconstructed breast seems more natural. Another option for some women is the nipple-sparing mastectomy. This procedure is more often an option for women who have a small early stage cancer near the outer part of the breast, with no signs of cancer in the skin or near the nipple.
- Modified radical mastectomy: This surgery involves removing the entire breast and some of the lymph nodes under the arm.
- Radical mastectomy: This is a major operation where the surgeon removes the entire breast, underarm lymph nodes, and the chest wall muscles under the breast. This surgery is rarely done now because modified radical mastectomy has proven to work just as well. It may still be done for large tumors that are growing into the muscles and under the breast.
- Reconstructive or breast implant surgery: After having a mastectomy (or some breast-conserving surgeries) a woman may want to have the breast mound rebuilt. These operations are done to restore the way the breast looks. If you are having breast surgery and are thinking about having breast reconstruction, you should talk to a plastic surgeon before your operation.
Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer
Radiation therapeutic approaches for breast cancer include:
- External beam radiotherapy, including 3D conformal radiotherapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), and image-guided radiation therapy.
- Brachytherapy via high dose rate or seed implants.
- Prone breast radiotherapy in which women are positioned on their stomachs during radiation therapy to potentially minimize unnecessary radiation to the heart and lung
Radiation therapy is administered by CentraState’s Radiation Oncology Department.
Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer
Chemotherapy uses medicines that kill or halt the growth of cancer cells. This approach is generally used in three ways:
- Adjuvant chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is given to patients after surgery whose cancer does not appear to have spread.
- Neoadjuvant chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is given to patients before surgery to help shrink large cancers so they are small enough to be removed by lumpectomy instead of mastectomy.
- Chemotherapy for advanced breast cancer: Chemotherapy can also be used as the main treatment for women with cancer that has already spread outside the breast and underarm area at the time it is found, or if it spreads after the first treatments.
Chemotherapy is offered through CentraState Medical Center’s Pharmacy Department and administered by Magnet-designated nurses credentialed in chemotherapy and certified in cancer care.
Chemotherapy infusion treatment is offered at the Jean Mehr Infusion Therapy Center located in CentraState’s Medical Arts Building.
Some patients may be eligible to participate in clinical trials in which they receive an emerging breast cancer treatment before it becomes publicly available
Complementary, Supportive Services
Patients may find dealing with the emotional and physical effects of breast cancer to be stressful, even isolating. To help them cope, we offer an array of supportive services such as wellness programs and support groups.