The treatment planning for breast cancer depends on various factors like the tumour’s location, tumour’s size, menstrual factors of the patient, the type of cancer, patient’s age and the general health of the patient. The key treatment modalities include surgery, radiotherapy and systemic therapy. The treatment could be unimodal or multimodal.
Surgery may be performed to remove just the tumor (lumpectomy) or the entire breast (mastectomy). It may also involve the removal of the lymph nodes and the surrounding tissues.
It involves the removal of the tumour along with a small, cancer-free margin of healthy tissue around the tumour. It may also involve the removal of the surrounding lymph nodes. Lumpectomy is also known as Breast Conservation Surgery (BCS) or Partial Mastectomy. Better aesthetic outcomes and well-preserved quality of life are the key advantages of this procedure.
The removal of the entire breast is recommended if the tumour is in the middle of the breast, tumours are present in multiple areas of the breast, tumour size is large and if the patient has undergone breast radiotherapy in the past.
It is performed during a lumpectomy or mastectomy. It is a procedure wherein a few to a large number of lymph nodes are removed to assess the spread of cancer.
is a type of surgery, which involves the removal of the breast, underarm lymph nodes and the lining over the chest muscles; however, the chest muscles are left intact.
Systemic therapies act on the entire body and help in treating the cancerous growths wherever they are located, including the ones that are too small to detect.
uses potent drugs that are administered orally or injected into the muscle or vein to stop the growth of cancer cells either by killing them or preventing their multiplication.
It is effective in treating hormone-positive breast cancers; i.e., those cancers that depend on hormones for their growth. Most breast cancers are hormone-positive. Hormone therapy works either by lowering the levels of the hormones or by blocking their effects. Hormone therapy does not work for triple-negative breast cancer as it is hormone-negative.
It is a treatment modality where the body’s own immune cells are extracted, re-engineered to fight against the cancer cells and injected back into the body.
It works on the principle of precision medicine. It works by targeting the cancer-specific genes, proteins or the cellular environment that are contributing to tumour growth and survival. This treatment precisely targets the tumour while reducing the damage to the surrounding healthy tissues.
It is another drug that can help put the brakes on uncontrolled cancer growth. It is used in women who have a gene that leads to an excessive number of HER2 receptors on the surface of the cancer cells. These receptors pick up growth signals and spur on the tumour. By blocking HER2 receptors, Herceptin can slow or stop the growth of the breast cancer.
Radiotherapy employs high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill the cancer cells in the breast or control their growth. Radiation may be delivered externally (external beam radiation therapy), or internally by placing the radiation source in the tumour or next to it (internal radiation therapy or brachytherapy).