Treat yourself! As diseases have advanced over the years so have the treatments. With a case like cancer, what once was thought to be incurable; today has more treatments than ever before! With so many options available, the best thing YOU can do would be to learn as much as possible about what’s out there. Whether you have been diagnosed with breast cancer or at risk, secure your future by understanding the breast cancer treatment options and how each will affect you.
Ultimately, the goal of each treatment is to get rid of the cancer cells in the body and prevent them from coming back. Before you start receiving treatment, your doctor will need to analyze a few things first:
1. The type of breast cancer.
2. The size of the tumor.
3. The degree of spread in the body.
4. If the tumor has “receptors” for estrogen, progesterone, HER2 protein, or other specific features.
5. Your age.
6. Whether or not you’ve gone through menopause.
7. Other health issues you may have.
8. Your personal preferences for treatment.
Breast Cancer Treatment Types:
Surgery – The two main types of breast surgeries are called mastectomy and lumpectomy which have their own respective types. A mastectomy involves removing the entire breast while a lumpectomy extracts only the tumor and tissues around it.
Radiation Therapy – This uses high-energy waves to kill off the cancer cells.
Chemotherapy – This method uses medicinal drugs to kill cancer cells, however, come with a number of side effects such as fatigue, hot flashes, early menopause, hair loss and nausea.
Hormone Therapy – As the name suggests, this treatment typically uses medicines that prevent hormones, most especially estrogen, from speeding the growth of breast cancer cells. In some cases, this therapy works by preventing the ovaries from producing hormones, either through medication or surgery. This method also comes with a number of side effects such as vaginal dryness and hot flashes. The types of medications given depend on whether you have already gone through menopause.
Targeted Therapy – This method also uses medicine but instead of directly targeting cancer, it prompts the body’s immune system instead to target and destroy the cancer cells. This is done by detecting a protein called HER2 which is highly prominent in breast cancer cells.
Making the Decision:
With all these options, depending on your diagnosis, you may have to have some combined to make sure that all the cancer cells are removed. Talk things through with your doctor about the pros and cons of each treatment and how each will affect your lifestyle. Try meeting other women who are or have gone through breast cancer treatment. They can share with you, their experiences and give you the advice to understand and decide on what’s best for you. You could also ask your doctor if you could join a clinical trial wherein a research study is currently testing new treatments before they are made available to everyone. Regardless of what you choose, stay strong!
Are you a breast cancer survivor? Care to share your story about breast cancer treatment? Please let us know down in the comments section!