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.
Radiotherapy For Breast Cancer
Radiotherapy uses high energy x-rays to kill cancer cells. You usually have 3 weeks of radiotherapy after having breast conserving surgery. But in some hospitals, you may have this treatment over a shorter time.
Some people might have radiotherapy after a mastectomy. This depends on the stage of the cancer.
How Can I Make A Decision Between Mastectomy And Breast Conservation Therapy
Breast conservation therapy is often used for patients with early-stage invasive breast cancers . It is also used for patients with DCIS . Some of the reasons to not have breast conservation therapy include: personal preference increased risk of complications from radiation therapy in individuals with certain rare medical conditions such as certain autoimmune disorders surgery that would require removing a large amount of diseased breast tissue that would lead to a poor cosmetic result and tumors that are more likely than average to have a relapse in the breast with breast conservation therapy. Women who are carriers for the breast cancer gene may sometimes elect for a double mastectomy.
Most patients may choose a treatment based on other factors, such as convenience or personal preference . Most women prefer to keep their breast if this is possible to do safely, but there is no right answer that is best for everyone. This decision is one that is ideally made in partnership between a patient and her physician. In some cases a pre-surgical consultation with a radiation oncologist may be helpful in answering questions about breast-conserving therapy.
Nearly all physicians will recommend patients be treated with mastectomy instead of breast conservation therapy when the risk of recurrence in the breast is more than 20 percent. This is the case if the tumor is large or multifocal . This situation occurs for only a small number of women, however.
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Expert Review And References
- Bursein HJ, Harris JR, Morrow M. Malignant tumors of the breast. Devita, V. T., Jr., Lawrence, T. S., & Rosenberg, S. A. Cancer: Principles & Practice of Oncology. 8th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 2008: 43.2: pp. 1606-54.
- Foxson SB, Lattimer JG & Felder B. Breast cancer. Yarbro, CH, Wujcki D, & Holmes Gobel B. . Cancer Nursing: Principles and Practice. 7th ed. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett 2011: 48: pp. 1091-1145.
- National Cancer Institute. Breast Cancer Treatment Health Professional Version. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute 2010.
- Breast cancer. National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology. National Comprehensive Cancer Network 2010.
- Tripathy D, Eskenazi LB, Goodson, WH, et al. Breast. Ko, A. H., Dollinger, M., & Rosenbaum, E. Everyone’s Guide to Cancer Therapy: How Cancer is Diagnosed, Treated and Managed Day to Day. 5th ed. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing 2008: pp. 473-514.
How Do You Take Them
All of the SERMs come as a pill, except Soltamox, which is a liquid. Depending on which of these medicines you take, the doses range from 20 milligrams to 60 mg a day.
If you take a SERM to lower your risk for breast cancer, you’ll usually stay on the medicine for 5 to 10 years.
Faslodex, a SERD, comes as two shots. You get one shot into each buttock. Each injection takes 1 to 2 minutes. You’ll get this treatment three times in the first month, and then once a month after that.
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Is There A Breast Cancer Cure
There is currently no cure for metastatic breast cancer, or breast cancer that has spread to distant parts of the body. However, early stages of breast cancer that remain localized are highly treatable 99 percent of people who receive treatment in the earliest stages of breast cancer live for 5 years or longer after diagnosis, according to the
The Lymphatic System Of The Breast The Breast Has Many Blood Vessels And Lymph Vessels Lymph Vessels Are Thin Tubes Similar To Blood Vessels They Collect And Move Lymph Fluid Away From The Breast Into Small Bean
The axillary lymph nodes are under the arm . There are about 3050 lymph nodes in the axilla. They are divided into 3 levels based on how close they are to the large muscle of the chest . When breast cancer spreads, it usually spreads to level I lymph nodes, then to level II and then to level III.
- Level I, or low axilla, are along the outer border of the muscle under the pectoralis major
- Level II, or mid axilla, are beneath the pectoralis minor.
- Level III, or high axilla, are along the inner border of the pectoralis minor.
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Treatment Of Ductal Carcinoma In Situ
For information about the treatments listed below, see the Treatment Option Overview section.
- Breast-conserving surgery and radiation therapy, with or without tamoxifen.
- Total mastectomy with or without tamoxifen. Radiation therapy may also be given.
Use our clinical trial search to find NCI-supported cancer clinical trials that are accepting patients. You can search for trials based on the type of cancer, the age of the patient, and where the trials are being done. General information about clinical trials is also available.
What Is The Survival Rate For Stage Ii Breast Cancer
If you are diagnosed with stage II breast cancer, you have an excellent chance of being cured and living a long and healthy life. According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the five-year survival rate for stage II is 90-99%.
I always tell patients that there are certain things that we have to do to get the cancer treated. but overall, the goal for treatment for stage II breast cancer is to be disease-free and to live a long and healthy life afterwards and there is a very excellent chance that that can happen, says Dr. Maxwell.
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What Is Stage Iv Cancer
Stage IV cancer is the most severe form of cancer in which cancer has spread to a distant part of the body from its origin. Thus, testicular cancer may have spread to the lungs and bones, thyroid cancer may have spread to the brain, and so on. It is also known as metastatic or advanced disease.
The staging system often used for most types of cancer is the American Joint Committee on Cancer TNM system. In these staging systems, three types of key information are used.
- T : It refers to the size of the original tumor.
- N : It describes whether cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.
- M : It refers to the spreading of cancer to other parts of the body.
A number or the letter X is allocated to each factor. A higher number means the cancer is advanced. For instance, a T1 score refers to a smaller tumor than a T2 score. The letter X indicates that information could not be assessed. M1 indicates that cancer has spread to a distant part of the body.
The physician combines T, N, and M results and other factors specific to cancer to determine the stage of cancer for each person. Most cancer types have four stages: stages I-IV, with stages I and IV being the least severe and most severe forms of cancer, respectively. Some types of cancer also have a stage 0 .
The Types Of Radiotherapy
The type of radiotherapy you have will depend on the type of breast cancer and the type of surgery you have. Some women may not need to have radiotherapy at all.
Types of radiotherapy include:
- breast radiotherapy after breast-conserving surgery, radiation is applied to the whole of the remaining breast tissue
- chest-wall radiotherapy after a mastectomy, radiotherapy is applied to the chest wall
- breast boost some women may be offered a boost of high-dose radiotherapy in the area where the cancer was removed however, this may affect the appearance of your breast, particularly if you have large breasts, and can sometimes have other side effects, including hardening of breast tissue
- radiotherapy to the lymph nodes where radiotherapy is aimed at the armpit and the surrounding area to kill any cancer that may be in the lymph nodes
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After Breast Cancer Has Been Diagnosed Tests Are Done To Find Out If Cancer Cells Have Spread Within The Breast Or To Other Parts Of The Body
The process used to find out whether the cancer has spread within the breast or to other parts of the body is called staging. The information gathered from the staging process determines thestage of the disease. It is important to know the stage in order to plan treatment. The results of some of the tests used to diagnosebreast cancer are also used to stage the disease.
The following tests and procedures also may be used in the staging process:
Signs Of Breast Cancer Include A Lump Or Change In The Breast
- A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area.
- A change in the size or shape of the breast.
- A dimple or puckering in the skin of the breast.
- A nipple turned inward into the breast.
- Fluid, other than breast milk, from the nipple, especially if it’s bloody.
- Scaly, red, or swollen skin on the breast, nipple, or areola .
- Dimples in the breast that look like the skin of an orange, called peaudorange.
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Biomarker Testing Is Used To Find Out Whether Breast Cancer Cells Have Certain Receptors
Healthy breast cells, and some breast cancer cells, have receptors that attach to the hormonesestrogen and progesterone. These hormones are needed for healthy cells, and some breast cancer cells, to grow and divide. To check for these biomarkers, samples of tissue containing breast cancer cells are removed during a biopsy or surgery. The samples are tested in a laboratory to see whether the breast cancer cells have estrogen or progesterone receptors.
Another type of receptor that is found on the surface of all breast cancer cells is called HER2. HER2 receptors are needed for the breast cancer cells to grow and divide.
For breast cancer, biomarker testing includes the following:
- Triple negative. If the breast cancer cells do not have estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, or a larger than normal amount of HER2 receptors, the cancer cells are called triple negative.
- Triple positive. If the breast cancer cells do have estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and a larger than normal amount of HER2 receptors, the cancer cells are called triple positive.
Is Radiation Therapy Necessary If The Margins Of The Removed Tissue Are Clear
Many studies have reviewed this approach for patients with invasive cancers. Nearly all show that the risk of relapse in the breast is much higher when radiation is not used than when it is . When breast cancer re-occurs locally after breast conservation surgery, patients may then need to have a mastectomy to be cured. Because having breast cancer reappear in this way is a very traumatic psychological event, and because not everyone who has a recurrence in the breast can be cured, radiation therapy after lumpectomy has become a standard part of breast-conserving therapy.
There are several recent studies in which older patients with small, favorable invasive cancers have had a low risk of local relapse when treated with lumpectomy and hormonal therapy without radiation therapy. There is still uncertainty about the long-term results with this approach or about which individuals will do best without radiation therapy. This issue should be discussed in detail with your doctor.
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Certain Factors Affect Prognosis And Treatment Options
The prognosis and treatment options depend on the following:
- The stage of the cancer .
- The type of breast cancer.
- Estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor levels in the tumor tissue.
- Human epidermal growth factor type 2 receptor levels in the tumor tissue.
- Whether the tumor tissue is triple negative .
- How fast the tumor is growing.
- How likely the tumor is to recur .
- A womans age, general health, and menopausal status .
- Whether the cancer has just been diagnosed or has recurred .
Local Breast Cancer Recurrence
Breast cancer can return to the same area where it first appeared, Lange says. In this case, your doctor will base a treatment approach on how the first cancer was addressed.
If the original tumor was treated with lumpectomy and radiation, many patients may then need a bigger surgery, such as mastectomy, for the purpose of local control, she explains. If the original tumor was treated with mastectomy, then local resection of the recurrence should be considered. This is often followed by radiation therapy to the resection site.
Lange says an oncologist will evaluate a patient with recurrent breast cancer. Based on characteristics of the cancer cells and how they are behaving, the oncologist might recommend chemotherapy, hormonal therapy or a combination of treatments. For some patients, clinical trials of new therapies may be available.
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How Common Is Triple
About 10 to 20% of breast cancers are found to be triple-negative. However, triple-negative cancer cells are found more often in people under the age of 50. This is about 10 years younger than the average age of 60 or older for other types of breast cancer diagnoses. Triple-negative breast cancer is also found in higher percentages of Black and Hispanic patients and less often in Asian and non-Hispanic patients.
Another population that is more likely to be diagnosed with this type of breast cancer has an inherited mutation of the BRCA gene. About 70% of those with triple-negative breast cancer also test positive for having the BRCA mutation. You may qualify for genetic testing based on your family history. Learn more about genetic testing for breast cancer.
Five Ways To Prepare For A Mastectomyemotionally And Physically
In 2015, Beth W. was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. After receiving her initial treatment at another facility, she sought out a second opinion at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® , where she eventually embarked on a nine-month treatment journey of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. One question she gets the most from other patients is how to prepare for a mastectomy. Here are the five ways she says she prepared for the procedureemotionally and physically.
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What Are The Side Effects Of Breast Cancer Treatment
The treatment of breast is associated with side effects that may be long-term in nature and may continue even after the treatment is over. The side effects of post-treatment/surgery may include the following:
- Memory loss
- Loss of cognitive functions
Some of these could be late side effects and may start appearing weeks, months or even years after completing the treatment. They can, however, be addressed by maintaining a healthy lifestyle after the treatment.
Hormone Therapy For Premenopausal Women
For premenopausal women with metastatic breast cancer, hormone therapy almost always begins with ovarian suppression and either an aromatase inhibitor, tamoxifen or other hormone therapy drug.
Ovarian suppression lowers hormone levels in the body so the tumor cant get the estrogen it needs to grow. This may involve surgery to remove the ovaries or, more often, drugs to stop the ovaries from producing hormones.
Combining ovarian suppression and a hormone therapy drug improves survival over either treatment alone .
If breast cancer progressed during past treatment with a hormone therapy drug, the same hormone therapy drug may not be an option for treatment.
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Can Breast Cancer Be Prevented
You may be able to help prevent breast cancer by making healthy lifestyle changes such as:
- Staying at a healthy weight
- Limiting alcohol use
- Limiting your exposure to estrogen by
- Breastfeeding your babies if you can
- Limiting hormone therapy
If you are at high risk, your health care provider may suggest that you take certain medicines to lower the risk. Some women at very high risk may decide to get a mastectomy to prevent breast cancer.
It’s also important to get regular mammograms. They may be able to identify breast cancer in the early stages, when it is easier to treat.
NIH: National Cancer Institute
What Should A Person With Stage 3 Breast Cancer Expect From Treatment
Stage 3 treatment options vary widely and may consist of mastectomy and radiation for local treatment and hormone therapy or chemotherapy for systemic treatment. Nearly every person with a Stage 3 diagnosis will do best with a combination of two or more treatments.
Chemotherapy is always given first with the goal to shrink the breast cancer to be smaller within the breast and within the lymph nodes that are affected. This is known as neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
Other possible treatments include biologic targeted therapy and immunotherapy. There may be various clinical trial options for interested patients with Stage 3 breast cancer.
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