Treatment of breast cancer is individualised according to the type, grade, stage and receptor status of the cancer. It also takes the age and health status of the patient into consideration. Therefore, advised treatment plans may differ between patients.
General types of treatment can be put into broad groups, based on how they work and when they are used. Combinations of the various treatments are often advised for individual patients with breast cancer.
Adjuvant VS Neo-Adjuvant treatment
Cancer cells may break away from the main tumour and spread through the bloodstream, even in the early stages of the disease. It is very hard to tell if this has happened. But, if it has, these cells can start new tumours in other organs months or years later. Therefore – depending on the type, stage, grade and receptor status of the cancer – a patient may be advised to have certain treatments after their surgery in order to kill these hidden cells. This is called Adjuvant therapy.
Neo-adjuvant therapy means that the patient has systemic therapy BEFORE their surgery either to shrink a cancer before the operation, or if the operation needs to be delayed for some reason.
Treatment can also be divided into Local and Systemic treament.
Local VS systemic treatment
The purpose of local treatment is to treat a tumour without affecting the rest of the body.
Surgery and radiation are examples of local treatment.
Systemic treatment is given into the bloodstream or by mouth to go throughout the body and reach cancer cells that may have spread beyond the breast.
Chemotherapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy and biological therapy are systemic treatments. These also include TARGETED THERAPIES FOR BREAST CANCER.
Find out more about LOCAL TREATMENT FOR BREAST CANCER.
Find out more about SYSTEMIC TREATMENT FOR BREAST CANCER.