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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

  • Thumb avatar default

    I had a unilater mastectomy and axillary lymph dissection 2 weeks ago and have an exceptional amount of discomfort and pain under my right arm. Is this common and if so - any tips on minimizing or reducing the pain?

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 3A Patient
    over 5 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Leah Fortune Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Not sure what type of pain. I couldn't stand for anything to touch my arm. It took my awhile to realize certain things bothered me.

      Comment
    • Brandi Mixon Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      I'm assuming the right side is where you had the work done. If so, yes it is very normal. My onco said the pain could last for weeks months or years! I still have pain a year after my BMX. I can't say it's better, but I think in just used to it!!

      Comment
  • jennifer  morton Profile

    ok im having a great of deal of anxiety, not sure if normal. scared cause thurs have surgery and if im this overwelmed. im afraid surgery will may have prob. is thia normal

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 6 years 14 answers
    • View all 14 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Jennifer,
      I spent the days before my surgery.... mainly hysterical. I was so afraid I wouldn't wake up from the anesthesia that I couldn't even think beyond that. When I went in to the operating room to have the surgery.... I had to walk from the waiting room to the surgery. I took one look at...

      more

      Jennifer,
      I spent the days before my surgery.... mainly hysterical. I was so afraid I wouldn't wake up from the anesthesia that I couldn't even think beyond that. When I went in to the operating room to have the surgery.... I had to walk from the waiting room to the surgery. I took one look at it and all the people there and said..."I can't go through with this" so I turned around and walked right out. After a short "consultation" with the crowd, I had to actually lay myself on the "alter of doom" and go through with it. I know the terror you are having. Please ask them for a little happy pill before you have this done. It will make it so much easier. What you are feeling is so normal! I am sure we were all scared to some degree or other. We face a particularly terrifying predicament..... breast cancer. You WILL make it, you WILL be getting rid of the primary tumor, and you will be on your way to getting well. It's a big journey but really, you are stronger than you think you are. I was about as pessimistic as a human could be. Try to shove the negative thoughts out of your head. There is only one thing to do and that is get through each portion of treatment one step at a time. You can and will beat this. God's blessings and peace be with you. Take care, Sharon

      5 comments
    • Anonymous Stage 2 Profile
      anonymous
      Patient

      You should call your doctor and ask for Xanax. Explain to her/him how you are feeling. That's what I did. I took Xanax for 2 weeks prior to my surgery to calm me down.. It helped me alot. Good luck.

      Comment
  • nicole blagburn Profile

    I called my oncologist to tell him about the awful tamoxifen side effects I'm having and now they are concerned about the cramps in my legs. They set up an ultra sound to see if there are any blood clots. Are leg cramps not normal?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 6 years 2 answers
    • Lisa Taylor Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      I have the leg craps as well! My doctor told me to take B6! I have been on tamoxifen for 8 months now!

      Comment
    • melissa perlman Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      They can be normal. Cramps can also be a sign of blood clots. If your calves are not red warm or swollen, you probably have nothing to worry about. Start taking a baby aspirin everyday.

      2 comments
  • Thumb avatar default

    Had lumpectomy and reexcision two weeks ago. Breast feels a little lumpy above the excision site. Is that normal? Also still having occasional twinges of pain.

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 2A Patient
    over 6 years 2 answers
    • Coco Smith Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Yes - very normal. Especially if you are in the approx 40% of women[like me] who ended up with a seroma i/under their lumpectomy surgical scar. A seroma is a fluid filled sac. It can become encapsulated ie., covered in very hard tissue which can be painful OR if can stay as it is OR as it can...

      more

      Yes - very normal. Especially if you are in the approx 40% of women[like me] who ended up with a seroma i/under their lumpectomy surgical scar. A seroma is a fluid filled sac. It can become encapsulated ie., covered in very hard tissue which can be painful OR if can stay as it is OR as it can slowly be reabsorbed by your body and disappear.

      You need to ensure the pain is not from a wound infection - is it hot, throbbing, oozing, raised body temperature or any other classic signs of infection?

      If not, high chance a seroma. Seromas normally diagnosed by ultrasound - as mine was after I continued to feel pain in/under lumpectomy scar without any sign of infection and had to ensure my breast did not jiggle as this sent shooting pains. Going over speed humps was the worst!

      If it is a seroma you also have a critical decision to make. Many resolve over time on their own or at least reduce to point where they are less painful. Others encapsulate or grow bigger.Some Drs will offer to aspirate your seroma ie., insert a needle into it and withdraw the liquid inside it, deflating it. There are negatives associated with this. Many time it is futile as it refills with liquid very quickly and the pressure and pain return. Inserting needles can introduce infection when there is none. Having more procedures on an already pummelled breast focussed on the same spot can be very upsetting as well as painful. On the positive, a percentage of seromas can be permanently deflated this way.

      The ultrasound will give you the exact dimensions if it is a seroma. That may assist you make up your mind about what to do. Mine was 4mm, it increased to 8mm and was becoming more of a daily problem, but reduced back to 4mm, which I can cope with. I notice if I am tired, run down or been doing things like lifting children or animals and they have pressed or come into contact with my affected breast, it gets more painful.

      There is the potential for the pain to be from other things eg., something left inside from the procedure, there may be stitches still inside, but that is more likely to be linked to infection. The thing about cancer spread is that is mostly painless in the earlier stages, but it has to be considered as well. The more accurate test for that is a dual breast coil MRI - MRI's are far more accurate than mammograms especially in denser breasts, unlike xrays or CT there is no large radiation dose and it is accurate down to very small cells. My imagist tells me MRI's detect cancer years years before other methods do. MRI's are noisy and you need a contrast dye for cancer cells detection.
      The problem is when your breast is still so tender from surgery and you are still in pain, the last thing you want is to have is them squished in a mammogram!
      Hope this gives you an oversight of main issues. Get it checked out!

      2 comments
    • Jk Joyce Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      I am the same way. The onc said it was normal and may take a year to go away. I had a lot of shooting pains today and that is normal too...although it is not fun!

      Comment

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