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Treatment

 
Treatment

Chapter: 6 - Treatment

Subchapter: 3 - Surgery

The first step and most common form of treatment for breast cancer is surgery. This involves removing the tumor and getting clear the margins; the margin is the surrounding tissue that might be cancerous. The goal of surgery is to remove not only the tumor, but also enough of the margin to be able to test for the spread of the cancer.

Some people with Stage 2 or 3 cancer may receive chemotherapy first, which is known as “pre-operative “ or “neoadjuvant” chemotherapy. The goal is to shrink the tumor. By making it smaller, you may have the option of a breast-conserving surgery or lumpectomy.

Mastectomy
In the past, surgery often required removing the, entire breast, chest wall
and all axillary lymph nodes in a procedure called a radical mastectomy. While mastectomies are less common today, there are instances in which this surgery is the best option to treat the cancer.

The more common mastectomy procedures are:

- Simple Mastectomy, also known as total mastectomy, which requires removal of the breast, nipple,areola
and sentinel lymph node or nodes.

- Modified Radical Mastectomy, which requires removal of the
entire breast, nipple, areola
and axillary lymph nodes.

- Skin-Sparing Mastectomy, which requires removal of the, breast, nipple, areola and sentinel lymph node (or nodes) but not the breast skin.

If you are thinking about breast reconstruction, you should consult your medical team before the mastectomy. Even if you plan to have your reconstruction later, this is a way for you to learn about your options.

Related Questions

  • Michelle Lower Profile

    Does having a double mastectomy make you feel like an amputee?? Im also worried about depression?? anyone else??

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 2A Patient
    almost 6 years 6 answers
    • View all 6 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Patient

      No not an amputee , but sometimes I feel like I'm missing something. I get sad often but not depressed to need meds you get stronger each day but it takes time and learning makes you more confident.

      2 comments
    • André Roberts Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      No, I didn't feel that way. Or depressed. I knew I was doing the right thing. This is what I needed to do to save my life. We took lots of pictures, from every angle, lol. Just to have. I don't miss my old national geographic boobs at all. Love my new firm perky ones tho! I sometimes wish I had...

      more

      No, I didn't feel that way. Or depressed. I knew I was doing the right thing. This is what I needed to do to save my life. We took lots of pictures, from every angle, lol. Just to have. I don't miss my old national geographic boobs at all. Love my new firm perky ones tho! I sometimes wish I had feeling in them, but you get used to it. Prayers to you.

      Comment
  • Kristin Burghard Profile

    Should I take tamoxifen or have my ovaries removed?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 2 answers
    • Anne Marie jacintho Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2003

      Morning Kristen I pondered the same question in 2008. Did a lot of research saw an gyn oncologist and talked to a lot of other doctors. I also had a negative BRCA I and II Gene testing is the first requirement with a positive BRCA I and II for insurance to cover the removal of your ovaries. ...

      more

      Morning Kristen I pondered the same question in 2008. Did a lot of research saw an gyn oncologist and talked to a lot of other doctors. I also had a negative BRCA I and II Gene testing is the first requirement with a positive BRCA I and II for insurance to cover the removal of your ovaries. At least here in Hawaii. I was willing to pay for the procedure on my own at first. But after researching how estrogen is produced in your body I discovered that your ovaries are only partly producing estrogen you also produce estrogen from your adrenal glands so even with your ovaries removed you would still have to take some form of an estrogen blocker ... I still have my ovaries have been on tamoxifen for three years and am officially menopausal now so was switched to arimedix which I will take for another 5 years. I've read that there is research going on in finding another medication that breast cancer survivors will take for life. Have to say I was counting down two more years of tamoxifen so was hit with a hard blow when my doctor advised me to switch to arimedix for another 5 years. Took me a couple of months to warm up to the idea but bottom line is I really don't want another reoccurrence and if there is something that could possibly prevent it got to go with it. Take care

      3 comments
    • Karen Locklear Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I had to have my ovaries removed because I could not take tamoxifen. I had major side effects at first and then became allergic to it. After surgery, I am now on Femaria and other than bone pain, I am doing well taking it. I know a good many women that could not take tamoxifen for several...

      more

      I had to have my ovaries removed because I could not take tamoxifen. I had major side effects at first and then became allergic to it. After surgery, I am now on Femaria and other than bone pain, I am doing well taking it. I know a good many women that could not take tamoxifen for several reasons. I would have my ovaries removed if I were you. I hope this helps!!! God Bless You!!!

      2 comments
  • Barbara Grondzki Profile

    I had my 1st chemo treatment on 1/25/12 and am experiencing some heart burn . Is this normal? I'm doing a lot of walking and drinking water and wonder if there is any thing to take or do for it?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Hi Barbara, yes it's a very normal side effect of chemo. When I first began chemo, my Oncologist prescribed protonix. It's an acid reflux med. that is taken once a day. Gastrointestinal problems are very common with chemo such as heartburn, nausea, constipation/diarrhea. Luckily there are some...

      more

      Hi Barbara, yes it's a very normal side effect of chemo. When I first began chemo, my Oncologist prescribed protonix. It's an acid reflux med. that is taken once a day. Gastrointestinal problems are very common with chemo such as heartburn, nausea, constipation/diarrhea. Luckily there are some great medications out there to help! :). Just talk to your Onc. I just finished my chemo treatments last week (16 of them). Best wishes Barbara & hang in there! :)

      Comment
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Heart burn is one of the side effects I was put on somac but be careful side effect of antacid medication is anemia I needed a blood transfusion doesn't happen to every one but something to keep in mind my thought are with you

      Comment
  • vicky kayley Profile

    Hi I was diagnosed 3 weeks ago with invasive breast cancer. I'm having a mastectomy on the 28th then get results the Tuesday after. How long after surgery do you start chemo?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Hi Vicky, I'm sorry to hear about your cancer diagnosis. I was diagnosed last May with invasive breast cancer as well. It's such a shock when you're first diagnosed. It's a lot to process. It helps so much to talk to other women who have gone through the same thing. Not happy for the reason...

      more

      Hi Vicky, I'm sorry to hear about your cancer diagnosis. I was diagnosed last May with invasive breast cancer as well. It's such a shock when you're first diagnosed. It's a lot to process. It helps so much to talk to other women who have gone through the same thing. Not happy for the reason you're here....but glad you found us. :). Some women have their surgery first...then chemo. And other women have their chemo prior to their surgery. It depends on many factors such as size of tumor, stage, etc. I had chemo first to try & shrink the size of my tumor. I had my mastectomy 3 weeks after my last chemo treatment. Then I had more chemo 3 weeks after my surgery. But that doesn't happen too often. :). As Sharon said...when you get your path results back and have a set game plan, you'll feel much more in control. The time period could be anywhere from 3 weeks after your surgery on. Depending on your Onc. They'll probably want to do a port. You'll be so glad you did in the long run. It's so much easier in every way! I think the emotional aspect for me has been harder than the physical aspect. Just know you're not alone. Surround yourself with positive people. No "basement" people allowed! :). You're going to have "down" days. And that's ok. Cry when you need to. I'm a very positive person. But it's just normal and to be expected for you to be sad sometimes. Anyone that can be positive 24/7 doesn't have both oars in the water. ;). Read uplifting survivor stories. And there's a lot of them! My fav books are "chicken soup for breast cancer survivors", & "there's no place like hope" by Vickie Gerard. Plus you can key up a lot online. That kept me going. And we'll be here for you!!! There is a light at the end of the tunnel Vicky. I had stage 3C when I was diagnosed last may. I had 13 positive lymph nodes, two had broken outside the node, & a place in my chest wall. After chemo, surgery, then more chemo...now I have 6 more radiation treatments left. I am happy to tell you that my last PET scan showed no cancer!!!! I feel truly blessed! If you need any mastectomy tips...let me know. Much love & hugs

      2 comments
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Hi Vicky, I wish you hadn't joined "our club". It is typical for treatment of breast cancer, to be different for nearly every patient. Lots of us have had the same diagnosis but in the big picture, treatment depends on microscopic findings by the pathologist. There is no set amount time for...

      more

      Hi Vicky, I wish you hadn't joined "our club". It is typical for treatment of breast cancer, to be different for nearly every patient. Lots of us have had the same diagnosis but in the big picture, treatment depends on microscopic findings by the pathologist. There is no set amount time for patients chemo. treatments to start. Have you had a consultation with an oncologist and if so, you can call him or her and ask the question? They will usually talk to you about having a port installed too. A port makes the delivery of the chemotherapy much easier. I know things have happened so quickly for you and your head is swimming with all sorts of questions. Things actually settle down once you get the surgery done and tests back. You will really have a solid plan laid out for you. Please keep in touch with us, we have all been there and will be happy to share our experiences. Take care, & healing hugs, Sharon

      2 comments

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