Breast cancer treatment is evolving with each passing day. Every new invention in this field usually represents a ray of hope for the millions of women and some men who have to undergo the pain of loosing a breast or both to the disease. Sometimes, this amounts to loss of lives. Today, there are five standard breast cancer treatments adopted by medics. They include surgery, radio therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and targeted therapy. Still, there are other types of treatments in clinical trial stages. Such include sentinel lymph-node biopsy and stem-cell transplant, which has to be preceded by high doses of chemotherapy treatment.
Surgery is the most prevalent breast cancer treatment. Surgeons conduct a lumpectomy to remove the lump or tumor and adjacent tissue or partial mastectomy whereby, part of the infected breast and normal tissue surrounding it is removed. Lymph nodes are also taken from the underarm for purposes of checking if they have cancer cells. Total mastectomy involves the removal of the entire breast, while modified radical mastectomy involves the removal of the breast, lymph nodes and some chest-wall muscles where the cancer may have spread. Radical mastectomy is more like modified radical mastectomy except that all lymph nodes and more chest -wall muscles are removed. Usually, surgery is followed with radiotherapy, hormone therapy of chemotherapy in order to kill any cancer cells left in the body.
Radiation therapy is another common cancer treatment that kills cancer cells or reduces their growth rate using high energy x-rays. Radiation therapy is either administered externally using a machine that sends radiations towards the cancer, or internally through radioactive substances passed through catheters, seeds, wires or needles. Such are placed near or directly into the cancer. The choice of treatment that a doctor chooses depends on the severity and development stage of each cancer.
Breast cancer treatment through chemotherapy refers to the use of drugs to stop the cancer from developing either by killing the cancerous cells or through inhibiting them from dividing. In systemic chemotherapy, the drugs can either be injected into the blood stream or taken orally. In regional chemotherapy however, the drugs are placed directly on the body cavity, spinal column or the affected organ. Just like in radiotherapy, the treatment approaches in chemotherapy mainly depend on severity of the cancer, the type and development stage of the disease.
Hormone therapy-based breast cancer treatment removes specific hormones from the body or blocks their action for purposes of stopping the cancer cells from growing. Ovarian ablation is one such treatment that stops ovaries from producing estrogen. Other hormone therapy treatments have tamoxifen and aromatose inhibitors.
Targeted therapy treats cancer using drugs that identify and attack cancer cells without causing harm to normal cells. Tyrosine-Kinase inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies are the two common types of targeted therapy breast cancer treatments. No matter the type of breast cancer treatment that is used on a person, regular medical checkups will be required in future in order to gauge if the treatment managed to arrest the spread of the disease completely.