Breast Cancer: Types Of Treatment
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ON THIS PAGE: You will learn about the different types of treatments doctors use for people with breast cancer. Use the menu to see other pages.
This section explains the types of treatments that are the standard of care for early-stage and locally advanced breast cancer. Standard of care means the best treatments known. When making treatment plan decisions, you are strongly encouraged to consider clinical trials as an option. A clinical trial is a research study that tests a new approach to treatment. Doctors want to learn whether the new treatment is safe, effective, and possibly better than the standard treatment. Clinical trials can test a new drug and how often it should be given, a new combination of standard treatments, or new doses of standard drugs or other treatments. Some clinical trials also test giving less treatment than what is usually done as the standard of care. Clinical trials are an option to consider for treatment and care for all stages of cancer. Your doctor can help you consider all your treatment options. Learn more about clinical trials in the About Clinical Trials and Latest Research sections of this guide.
Reasons To Refuse Treatment
Most people would consider it “normal” to want to seek treatment for breast cancer the moment you are diagnosed, particularly at a time where survival rates are ever-increasing. But this would also infer that not seeking treatment is “abnormal,” and that’s rarely the case.
There are a plethora of reasons why a woman may not be willing to pursue or continue breast cancer treatment. Some may be transient and fade with time. Others are fully committed and made with a complete understanding of the implications of the refusal.
Among some of the more common reasons for the refusal of breast cancer treatment:
According to research from Canada, the majority of women who refused breast cancer therapy were over 50 , married , and had metastatic disease . Of these, 50% reported using some form of complementary or alternative medicine.
What Is Cam For Cancer
The prevalence of CAM use among cancer patients has been rising over the last few decades. The terms alternative and complementary are used to describe many kinds of;products, practices, and treatments.
Alternative therapy refers to non-standard treatment used;in place of;standard treatment, while complementary therapy usually means methods used;along with;standard treatment.
Alternative and complementary therapies are often appealing because they use your own body, your own mind, or things that may be found in nature. But sometimes these methods wrongly claim to prevent, diagnose, or treat cancer even when they have not been proven to work through scientific testing.
Some complementary methods have been studied and shown to help people feel better under a doctors care. Examples might include meditation to reduce stress, or acupuncture to reduce pain and nausea.
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What Types Of Hormone Therapy Are Used For Breast Cancer
Several strategies are used to treat hormone-sensitive breast cancer:
Blocking ovarian function: Because the ovaries are the main source of estrogen in premenopausal women, estrogen levels in these women can be reduced by eliminating or suppressing ovarian function. Blocking ovarian function is called ovarian ablation.
Ovarian ablation can be done surgically in an operation to remove the ovaries or by treatment with radiation. This type of ovarian ablation is usually permanent.
Alternatively, ovarian function can be suppressed temporarily by treatment with drugs called gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists, which are also known as luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonists. By mimicking GnRH, these medicines interfere with signals that stimulate the ovaries to produce estrogen.
Estrogen and progesterone production in premenopausal women. Drawing shows that in premenopausal women, estrogen and progesterone production by the ovaries is regulated by luteinizing hormone and luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone . The hypothalamus releases LHRH, which then causes the pituitary gland to make and secrete LH;and follicle-stimulating hormone . LH and FSH cause the ovaries to make estrogen and progesterone, which act on the endometrium .
Talk With Your Doctor
Make sure you talk with your doctor before you begin any of these alternative treatments. Your doctor can tell you if complementary or alternative therapies will be effective for the stage of your breast cancer, and steer you away from fraudulent products.
They can also tell you what research is available on different CAM treatments, what is and isnt known about them, and whether theyre safe. Your doctor can also write you a referral or a recommendation for an appropriate CAM treatment. Once you have all the information, you can make a truly informed decision.
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After Each Chemo Treatment
If necessary, your blood will be drawn after chemo. If your red counts or neutrophils are low, you may be offered shots to boost those counts. Chemotherapy can greatly affect your blood counts because blood cells divide and multiply quickly and are therefore targeted by the drugs.Staying on top of your blood counts is essential for recovering from chemo with a healthy immune system and avoiding anemia and neutropenia.
Breast Cancer Doctor Discussion Guide
Get our printable guide for your next doctor’s appointment to help you ask the right questions.
- Nerve damage
- “Chemo brain”
Your specific chemotherapy drug or regimen may cause other side effects, as well. These effects will subside after you’ve finished treatment.
Before each treatment, your medical oncologist may want you to take medications to protect against side effects. Be sure to take these on time and as prescribed.
Between chemotherapy appointments, if you have trouble dealing with side effects, don’t hesitate to call your clinic and ask for help. If you’re dehydrated after a treatment, you can ask for an infusion of saline fluid. Other medications may be given along with the saline to help with nausea and vomiting.
Proposing Chemotherapy For Healthy Women
In a perversion of modern day medicine, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has issued recommendations that urge healthy women to get prescribed chemotherapy drugs as a preventitive, to their risk of developing breast cancer. ;In this environment, where dangerous drugs are being prescribed without much cause, it is extremely important for breast cancer patients or those who feel they are at risk to understand that alternative breast cancer treatment options exist that will not put their life in jeopardy.
To make matters worse, there is no evidence whatsoever that these drugs can actually have a preventitive effect. ;All this while there are plenty of;alternative breast cancer treatments that treat the whole body in a way that allows patients to survive on their own terms.
One of the core principles of treatment at Hope4Cancer is the use of Non-Toxic therapies. You can find out more about Non-Toxic Cancer Therapies by clicking here.
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Most Women In The Mid
The new study looked at the 6,711 women from the trial who fell in the mid-range of 11 to 25. The goal of the study was to find out if these women could safely skip the chemotherapy.
Following surgery, the women were randomly assigned to receive chemotherapy followed by hormone therapy, or hormone therapy alone. The study was intended to measure invasive disease-free survival, the proportion of women who had not died, or had their cancer return, or developed a new cancer. Results were very similar between the 2 groups.
- Five years after treatment, the rate of invasive disease-free survival was 93.1% for those who had chemo and 92.8% for those who did not.
- Nine years after treatment, the rate of invasive disease-free survival was 84.3% for those who had chemo and 83.3% for those who did not.
Rates of overall survival were also very similar between the 2 groups.
- Five years after treatment, the rate of overall survival was 98.1% for those who had chemo and 98.0% for those who did not.
- Nine years after treatment, the rate of overall survival was 93.8% for those who had chemo and 93.9% for those who did not.
How My Cancer Care Combined Complementary And Conventional Treatments
To say that I was blindsided by my breast cancer diagnosis is an understatement. I was 38 and in the best shape of my life. Then I found a lump during a regular breast self-exam. After a 2-hour consultation, I was more than overwhelmed by the information given to me about my specific type of breast cancer: triple-negative invasive ductal carcinoma. The only good news I received that day was that this cancer responds well to chemotherapy. But my body and mind were protesting the idea of conventional cancer treatment.
I started reading about alternative therapies and talking to other people about them. Eventually, I found a naturopathic doctor focused on natural medicine. Treating my cancer with such therapies sounded way more attractive than chemotherapy and the radiation therapy that would follow. However, I became very discouraged when my research dove deeper. Alternative therapies arent proven to treat cancer and couldnt replace the standard care recommended to me.
I prayed for guidance, prayed that what I decided in the end about treatment would allow me to be there for my 3 children and my husband. I struggled with my decision for weeks, until my heart felt that combining some of the treatments Id found with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy would be the option Id brave.
I paid for my complementary treatments myself. None of it was covered by insurance. Some therapies were very expensive.
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How Is Breast Cancer Treated
Breast cancer is treated in several ways. It depends on the kind of breast cancer and how far it has spread.
Breast cancer is treated in several ways. It depends on the kind of breast cancer and how far it has spread. People with breast cancer often get more than one kind of treatment.
- Surgery. An operation where doctors cut out cancer tissue.
- Chemotherapy. Using special medicines to shrink or kill the cancer cells. The drugs can be pills you take or medicines given in your veins, or sometimes both.
- Hormonal therapy. Blocks cancer cells from getting the hormones they need to grow.
- Biological therapy. Works with your bodys immune system to help it fight cancer cells or to control side effects from other cancer treatments.
- Radiation therapy. Using high-energy rays to kill the cancer cells.
Doctors from different specialties often work together to treat breast cancer. Surgeons are doctors who perform operations. Medical oncologists are doctors who treat cancer with medicine. Radiation oncologists are doctors who treat cancer with radiation.
For more information, visit the National Cancer Institutes Breast Cancer Treatment Option Overview.external icon;This site can also help you find health care services.external icon
Lancet Study Suggests 10 Years Of Tamoxifen Not Just 5
A recent study published in the prestigious journal, Lancet, finds that taking Tamoxifen over 10 years can be more effective by ;This was accompanied with a slight rise in the risk of endometrial cancer. ;For women in their childbearing age, they might as well say goodbye to their chances of having children if they want them.
How To Choose A Complementary Therapy
Theres lots of different types of complementary therapies. Finding the right one for you will depend on your personal choice and you might try a couple before you find one you like.
You may want to look at the types of therapies that are available locally, how they work and what you feel may be helpful for you. You may also want to think about how comfortable you are with the way a therapy is given. For example, some therapies will require several appointments, and some may mean you will need to be partly undressed. However, a good complementary therapist will do their best to put you at ease.
Cam Treatment : Biofeedback
Biofeedback training is used to treat the side effects of chemotherapy. During biofeedback, youre hooked up to electrical sensors that monitor subtle changes in your body.
This method may help you gain conscious power over your body so that you can control actions that are normally autonomic, or involuntary. These functions include:
- muscle tension
- blood pressure
Your doctor will determine which type of biofeedback technique is best to treat your symptoms.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Resperate is the only biofeedback device approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. So be careful of machines marketed for at-home use. Some may be fraudulent and can cause damage.
- hormone therapy
- targeted therapy
Surgery and radiation therapy are considered local therapies because they treat cancer cells without affecting the rest of your body. Local therapies are most effective in the earlier stages of breast cancer.
Chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy are known as systemic therapies. Systemic therapies use drugs to treat breast cancer. Those drugs enter your bloodstream by either oral use or injection and reach tumors that have spread throughout your body. Systemic therapies are more effective in advanced stages of breast cancer.
Some breast cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, may cause side effects that last months or even years after therapy has ended. Some treatment plans may require multiple remedies at once, or one after the other.
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Alternative To Chemotherapy And Radiation Cancer Treatments
So, what can you do instead of conventional cancer treatment? Today, there are a host of substitute therapies and alternative medicine options to chemo and radiation therapy that fall under the umbrella of alternative cancer treatments. But, as a note, these cancer care alternatives should not be confused with stress-relieving therapies such as acupuncture, massage, tai chi, yoga, meditation, etc.
Whether youre exploring prostate cancer natural treatment options, a lymphoma natural treatment or are in search of alternative treatment for ovarian cancer, finding the right alternative treatments involves a customized and targeted therapy plan that relies upon utilizing the patients immune system to help stave off cancer. Whereas chemo completely wrecks the immune system for a cancer patient, alternative treatments are intended to:
- Train the immune system to specifically attack cancer cells.
- Stimulate the immune system to work better, faster, smarter, stronger in attacking cancer cells.
- Provide the patient with immune system components or man-made immune supplements to bolster your defense network.
As with traditional cancer treatments, alternative therapies may work better for certain strains or cases of cancer than others.
Treatment : Active Surveillance
Active surveillance may be all thats needed for certain types of cancers. Your doctor may recommend this approach if the cancer is at an early stage and is growing slowly or not at all.
For example, doctors often recommend active surveillance for prostate cancer, which tends to grow very slowly. Doctors monitor patients prostate-specific antigen with blood tests and monitor symptoms. If or when symptoms worsen or tests show that the cancer is growing more rapidly, they then begin discussing additional treatments.
Often, patients who are receiving active surveillance have no symptoms and go on living their lives as usual, Batus says.
Surveillance may also be an option for patients who want a break from treatment side effects or for those who have exhausted all other treatment options.
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Alternative Breast Cancer Treatment Options
The question is, what can patients do in the face of strong pressure from their medical community, peer group, family and friends? ;People need to know that alternative breast cancer treatment options;exist. ;Acquiring knowledge and building confidence in alternative methods is a good start.
Hope4Cancer Treatment Centers in Mexico treats patients as a whole person capable of fighting the cancer challenge. ;The focus is on building the immune system and eliminating toxins, instead of introducing stop gap, long term, toxic drug interventions that cause harm to the body without building up its intrinsic ability to beat cancer.
1. ;Ethan Huff. ;Incredible! ; NYT Pushing Toxic Cancer Drugs For Healthy Women Who Have No Cancer. ;Natural News April 2013. ; Taken from: ;
2. ;Pam Stephan. ;5 Years of Tamoxifen Good, 10 Years Better? ;About.com Guide, Dec 2012. ;Taken from: ;
Considering Complementary And Alternative Methods
You may hear about alternative or complementary methods that your doctor hasnt mentioned to treat your cancer or relieve symptoms. These methods can include vitamins, herbs, and special diets, or other methods such as acupuncture or massage, to name a few.
Complementary methods refer to treatments that are used along with your regular medical care. Alternative treatments are used instead of a doctors medical treatment. Although some of these methods might be helpful in relieving symptoms or helping you feel better, many have not been proven to work. Some might even be harmful.
Be sure to talk to your cancer care team about any method you are thinking about using. They can help you learn what is known about the method, which can help you make an informed decision.;
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Adjuvant And Neoadjuvant Drugs
Although drug combinations are often used to treat early breast cancer, advanced breast cancer more often is treated with single chemo drugs. Still, some combinations, such as;paclitaxel plus gemcitabine, are commonly used to treat advanced breast cancer.
For cancers that are HER2-positive, one or more drugs that target HER2 may be used with chemo.
Purpose Of Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy
All systemic therapy given for non-metastatic, invasive breast cancer is intended to reduce the risk of your cancer returning. But the purpose of administering it prior to surgery is to shrink your tumor or stop the spread of cancer to make surgery less invasive and more effective.
This process, called downstaging, may make it possible for you to have less extensive surgery on the breast and/or axilla , especially for those with large tumors. By having the size of the tumor reduced, you may become a candidate for surgical resection or breast-conserving surgery rather than mastectomy.
Neoadjuvant chemotherapy has also been shown to improve cosmetic outcomes and reduce postoperative complications such as lymphedema, particularly in those who undergo breast reconstruction surgery.
Up to half of the patients undergoing neoadjuvant treatment may become suitable candidates for breast conservation rather than mastectomy.
One systematic review of neoadjuvant chemotherapy for operable breast cancer found that those who received chemotherapy before surgery had a lower mastectomy rate than those undergoing some surgical procedure before being given chemotherapy.
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