Surgery is usually the first line of attack against breast cancer.
This section explains the different types of breast cancer surgery.
Decisions about surgery depend on many factors. You and your doctor will determine the kind of surgery that’s most appropriate for you based on the stage of the cancer, the “personality” of the cancer, and what is acceptable to you in terms of your long-term peace of mind.
The following pages will help you explore your surgery options:
- What to Expect with Any Surgery provides you with the basic steps common to all breast cancer surgeries.
- If you need to choose between surgeries, Mastectomy vs. Lumpectomy explains the pros and cons of each.
- Lumpectomy, also known as breast-conserving surgery, is the removal of only the tumor and a small amount of surrounding tissue.
- Mastectomy is the removal of all of the breast tissue. Mastectomy is more refined and less intrusive than it used to be because in most cases, the muscles under the breast are no longer removed.
- Lymph node removal, or axillary lymph node dissection, can take place during lumpectomy and mastectomy if the biopsy shows that breast cancer has spread outside the milk duct. Some people qualify for the less-invasive sentinel lymph node dissection.
- Breast reconstruction is the rebuilding of the breast after mastectomy and sometimes lumpectomy. Reconstruction can take place at the same time as cancer-removing surgery, or months to years later. Some women decide not to have reconstruction and opt for a prosthesis instead.
- Prophylactic mastectomy is preventive removal of the breast to lower the risk of breast cancer in high-risk people.
- Prophylactic ovary removal is a preventive surgery that lowers the amount of estrogen in the body, making it harder for estrogen to stimulate the development of breast cancer.
- Cryotherapy, also called cryosurgery, uses extreme cold to freeze and kill cancer cells. Right now, cryotherapy is an experimental treatment for breast cancer.
Radiation can reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence by about 70%.
Radiation therapy — also called radiotherapy — is a highly targeted, highly effective way to destroy cancer cells in the breast that may stick around after surgery. Despite what many people fear, radiation therapy is relatively easy to tolerate and its side effects are limited to the treated area.
Your radiation treatments will be overseen by a radiation oncologist, a cancer doctor who specializes in radiation therapy.
In this section you can learn more about radiation therapy, including:
- How Radiation Works
- When is Radiation Appropriate?
- Types of Radiation
- Managing Skin Side Effects
- Managing Other Side Effects of Radiation
- Radiation for Metastatic Breast Cancer
- Ten Key Points About Radiation Therapy
- Staying on Track with Radiation Therapy
Chemotherapy treatment uses medicine to weaken and destroy cancer cells in the body, including cells at the original cancer site and any cancer cells that may have spread to another part of the body. Chemotherapy, often shortened to just “chemo,” is a systemic therapy, which means it affects the whole body by going through the bloodstream.
In this section you can learn more about radiation therapy.
Learn about the side effects of chemotherapy on the body HERE.