Treatments and Research
There are two parts to breast cancer treatment: local therapy and systemic therapy. Whether you need local or systemic therapy, or both, depends on many different factors. The goals of these therapies differ:
- Local therapy aims to control the disease in the breast and nearby lymph nodes.
- Systemic therapy aims to get rid of very tiny cancer cells that may have traveled away from the primary breast tumor to other sites, such as your lymph nodes, bones, liver, lungs or brain.
The local therapies are surgery, either lumpectomy or mastectomy, and radiation. These therapies are sometimes offered in combination, and other times surgery alone is enough. In many cases, lumpectomy and radiation go together, but each case in unique and so is each treatment plan.
The systemic therapies are chemotherapy, hormonal therapy and targeted treatments. The choice about which systemic therapies, if any, you receive depends on the type of breast cancer you have and the chances of it coming back either in the breast or elsewhere in your body. Many factors go into the decision about which systemic therapy or therapies will be most effective for you. We discuss many of these factors in this section.
Treatments and Research explores the different types of local and systemic treatments available for breast cancer. You will also learn about some key issues you may wish to include as part of your care.
For more details about what you can find in this section, look at the navigation on the left.