Now more than ever, health care providers can treat breast cancer in many different ways. Each individual’s treatment may depend on the stage of breast cancer they have and the plan their doctor recommends. In this section, we will discuss the different types of treatments that are available in the fight against breast cancer.
A sentinel lymph node (SLNB) is the first lymph node which cancer cells go to from the primary tumor. There may be more than one sentinel lymph node.
SLNB is a procedure in which the sentinel lymph node is:
This procedure determines if cancer cells have spread to the lymphatic system. If cancer cells are present in the lymph, then there is a possibility it can or has already spread to other organs of the body.
A sentinel lymph node biopsy aide the doctor in:
- Determining what stage cancer has reached
- Developing a treatment plan for the patient
- Preventing the spread of breast cancer
Radiation is the use of high-energy rays which kill cancer cells. There are several different types of radiation:
External Beam Radiation
- Most common type of radiation.
- Radiation comes from a machine outside of the body and focuses on the area which has cancer.
- Actual procedure time only takes a few minutes, set-up time usually takes longer.
- Possible side effects
- Swelling or heaviness of breasts.
- Skin changes such as redness, blistering, and peeling of treated area.
Brachytherapy (internal radiation)
- Radioactive seeds are placed into a device which is then placed in the breast tissue where the cancer was detected.
- Can be used with external beam radiation.
Chemotherapy treatments are cancer-killing drugs that can be given by mouth or injected into a vein. The drugs travel through the bloodstream to reach cancer cells in the body. Chemotherapy is given in cycles, and the treatment can last several months. While on chemotherapy, you may experience possible side effects including:
- Hair loss
- Loss of appetite or increased appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Easy bruising
Breast-Conserving Surgery also referred to as a partial or segmental mastectomy or lumpectomy.
- Only part of the breast containing breast cancer is removed.
- This procedure removes cancer and some surrounding normal tissue.
Mastectomy: The breast tissue is removed, and possibly some surrounding tissue. There are different types of mastectomies.
- Simple mastectomy (total mastectomy)
- Removal of the entire breast, including the nipple.
- In some cases, both breasts are entirely removed (double mastectomy).
- Can be used as a preventative measure in women who are at high risk for breast cancer.
Reconstructive Surgery is a procedure done to restore the appearance of the breast after a mastectomy or breast-conserving surgery.