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Treatment

 
Treatment

Chapter: 6 - Treatment

Subchapter: 1 - Introduction

Treatment Introduction
In recent years, due to earlier detection and more effective treatments, many women diagnosed with breast cancer overcome the disease and go on to live healthy lives.

Treatment Options Recommended By Your Health Care Provider
It’s important to understand the different types of treatment options available to you, because you are an integral part of your decision-making team. Your medical team will advocate certain treatments, but they will also seek your input.

They will recommend a plan based on:
- Stage of cancer and whether or not it has spread
- Type of cancer, and status of the estrogen, progesterone, or HER2/neu receptors found in the cancer cells
- Your age, health, and menstrual/menopausal stage
- And whether or not this is your first cancer treatment

In general, there are five treatment options, and most treatment plans include a combination of the following:
1) Surgery
2) Radiation
3) Hormone Therapy
4) Chemotherapy
5) Targeted Therapies

Some are local, targeting just the area around the tumor with surgery or radiation. Others are systemic, targeting your whole body with cancer-fighting agents such as chemotherapy.

Most women receive a combination of treatments, but each case is unique, and your medical team will work to find the most effective treatment for you.

Getting A Second Opinion
Even so, you may find yourself second-guessing their recommendations or suggested treatment plan. If you’re hesitant for any reason, you should get the opinion of another doctor before beginning treatment. Your doctor will not mind if you want a second opinion; some insurance plans even require it.

Again, don’t hesitate to ask your medical team questions. When it comes to getting a second opinion, you are your own best advocate.

Related Questions

  • Tracy Stoops Profile

    I am starting AC chemo next Monday Oct 17. I have had bouts with nausea since my surgery (double with recon expanders) and also have thrush. I would appreciate any suggestions for not getting sick, not losing my hair, and not making the thrush worse....

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 3 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Tracy,
      I would definitely check in with your oncologist (TODAY) before you start your chemotherapy since you are experiencing symptoms like this.

      With AC, you will lose your hair. Mine starting coming out in clumps at day 14. My scalp tingled and hurt so I shaved my head. You might look...

      more

      Tracy,
      I would definitely check in with your oncologist (TODAY) before you start your chemotherapy since you are experiencing symptoms like this.

      With AC, you will lose your hair. Mine starting coming out in clumps at day 14. My scalp tingled and hurt so I shaved my head. You might look into a "cold cap". (ask your oncologist) I have heard mixed reviews. Chances are, you will have to face the fact, you will lose your hair. Go wig shopping now. Losing my hair was very tough but, in the big picture, this was just one of the many things I had to face after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
      Here is a link to read about the use of cold caps.
      http://www.breastcancer.org/tips/hair_skin_nails/cold-caps
      As for nausea, you will be given several drugs to help prevent nausea. I took a drug called "Emend". Try to stay hydrated, and eat whatever sounds good to you. Most people develop some pretty weird combinations during AC treatment as it changes your sense of taste. I craved "greens" like spinach, salads. The other things I ate, were fried egg sandwiches, and "Hot Pockets". Things just tasted weird. They will return to normal after you are through with AC.
      Your first treatment will be your longest. Take all of your comfort items with you. All your electronic devices will help pass the time. Take snacks, water, a blanket, whatever brings you comfort. I hope you have a port as it makes the administration of your treatment much easier.
      Listen to your body. If you need to take a nap, do it. Stay away from crowds because your immune system is lowered. Wash your hands and keep your hands away from your face. I felt very tired and achy for about 4 to 5 days after my treatment. I gradually returned to feeling normal after that. I never felt horrible. I was out of commission for a week, like I had the flu with body aches..... not nausea. I have 7 horses so was able to take care of them just fine. That was me, and how I felt. Everybody is different. ASK QUESTIONS OF YOUR ONCOLOGIST'S OFFICE! That is what they are there for. Don't think your questions are dumb. Be your own best advocate. You will get through this. Hang in there and take care, Sharon

      1 comment
    • Betti A Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      All of your questions may or may not occur. I was given an antinausea med prior to each infusion and also had 'scripts for 2 different ones to take at home as needed. You need to take it before you get nauseated as they won't work once the nausea has hit. As to hair loss most if not all women...

      more

      All of your questions may or may not occur. I was given an antinausea med prior to each infusion and also had 'scripts for 2 different ones to take at home as needed. You need to take it before you get nauseated as they won't work once the nausea has hit. As to hair loss most if not all women experience some sort of hair loss, I had mine short prior to and when I started losing it had my hairdresser shave off what was left and went with a hat while in public and wore nothing around the house. My friend developed thrush with her treatments and her oncologist prescribed something for it as mouth sores can occur also with chemo. Talk with your team and see what the recommendations are as they all have their own protocols.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    I had immediate reconstruction and am now going through radiation. I was told the implant might fail. Is it possible for one to have another reconstruction surgery if the implants fail?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 8 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Hi, yes another procedure can be done if you have problems with your implants after radiation. A good site that shows this is breastreconstruction.org. There are several different types of reconstruction that can be performed if it happens. I am looking into DIEP flap surgery now. I wasn't able...

      more

      Hi, yes another procedure can be done if you have problems with your implants after radiation. A good site that shows this is breastreconstruction.org. There are several different types of reconstruction that can be performed if it happens. I am looking into DIEP flap surgery now. I wasn't able to have immediate reconstruction due to my stage of cancer. I completed radiation and I'll be ready for recon. in approx. 1 month. Best wishes to you & hopefully you won't have any problems with your implants during radiation. Hugs, Diana

      Comment
    • Erin Timlin Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      I just had a right mastectomy last week and I still face radiation so I had an expander put in which is temporary

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    What is the significance of isolated tumor cells in a single lymph node? (a small five cell cluster of about 1mm)

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 8 years 3 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Stage 2A Patient

      Although the amount of cells seems small, the significance lies in the fact that the cancer moved into the lymph nodes. Chemotherapy will insure that any cell that got free will be killed and your chance of recurrence will be reduced.

      Comment
    • Nancy L Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I suggest speaking to your surgeon and to an oncologist, perhaps even requesting the Oncotype Dx testing of the cells. I was faced with a similar situation - two microscopic cancer cells in my nodes - and after a great many sleepless nights, chose to follow my surgeon's advice. He said the cells...

      more

      I suggest speaking to your surgeon and to an oncologist, perhaps even requesting the Oncotype Dx testing of the cells. I was faced with a similar situation - two microscopic cancer cells in my nodes - and after a great many sleepless nights, chose to follow my surgeon's advice. He said the cells were too small to test further and chemo would only increase my survival chances by approx. 2%, so I chose no chemo. After 4 years of Arimidex, I'm still going strong. Your situation may be different, certainly, so the advice of your doctors is critical. Ask lots of questions. Best of luck to you.

      Comment
  • terri mongomery Profile

    My name is Terri and I was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ. At post op I was told stage 1b which started at a. The doctor said chemo or radiation. Please some one out there give me a little input.

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 8 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • julie s Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2A Patient

      Radiation treats the breast tissue; chemo treats the whole body. Breast cancer.org has lots of good info

      1 comment
    • Isabel Souchet Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2010

      Hi Terri, I think you should get a list of questions together for surgeon and oncologist. I had dcis, stage 1 n went they did the surgery, they found a very small tumor that was invasive ductal carcinoma. Because I was her 2 positive, I needed chemo n herceptin. There are a lot of variables here...

      more

      Hi Terri, I think you should get a list of questions together for surgeon and oncologist. I had dcis, stage 1 n went they did the surgery, they found a very small tumor that was invasive ductal carcinoma. Because I was her 2 positive, I needed chemo n herceptin. There are a lot of variables here and you need a lot more information. Get the biopsy notes, are you her 2 or estrogen/ pr positive? I really felt I needed a second opinion, which I got before proceeding with treatment. Keep us posted

      Comment

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