3 Breast Cancer Treatment Options

Beating Breast Cancer: What are My Options

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers, affecting hundreds of thousands of women every year. Considering breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer in women, it is important to be aware of treatment options and how they work.

3 Breast Cancer Treatment Options

Below is a list of the 3 most common treatment routes for breast cancer along with their pros, cons, and possible side effects.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses specific drugs to harm and destroy breast cancer cells in order to slow tumor growth or possibly even cure the cancer.

Following is a breakdown of pros, cons, and potential side effects when using chemotherapy against breast cancer.

Pros
  • Proven track record and high chance of elimination of cancer in some cases
  • Slowed tumor growth
  • May provide the best chances of survival
Cons
  • Hair loss
  • Nausea
  • Pain
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Decreased immunity

Radiation

Radiation therapy utilizes specific types and doses of radiation in order to destroy cancer cells. Typically, X rays, gamma rays, and charged particles are used to negatively affect breast cancer cells.

Radiation therapy can be delivered systemically through an injection in the blood or by a machine. See below for a list of pros, cons, and possible side effects when using radiation therapy to treat breast cancer.

Pros
  • Ability to maintain a normal lifestyle due to short treatment times and limited hospitalizations
  • Slowed tumor growth
  • Can be combined with other treatments
Cons
  • Increase in cardiac disease
  • Healthy, normal cells are harmed
  • Lung tissue can experience an inflammatory reaction known as Radiation pneumonitis
  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue
  • Lymph edema of the arm and chest
  • Possible elevated risk of a second cancer

Surgery

A mastectomy, surgery to remove all of the breast tissue, or a lumpectomy, removing some of the tissue, are common and often highly effective treatment options for eliminating breast cancer and preventing its spread. Read on to learn more about the pros, cons, and side effects of using surgery as a breast cancer treatment option.

Pros
  • Can be used as a preventative measure in certain cases
  • Effective treatment option for eliminating breast cancer
  • Low chance of cancer returning
  • A mastectomy may prevent the need for radiation
Cons
  • Removal of the breasts can lead to insecurities and feelings of decreased womanhood
  • Some cancer cells may remain
  • Possible complications may result from surgery such as infection, blood clots, or bleeding
  • Reconstruction

After a mastectomy, many women choose to undergo additional surgery in order to reconstruct the breast tissue for increased confidence and comfort. Breast reconstruction surgery can be performed immediately after a mastectomy or at a later time, although it does carry potential risks such as infection or blood clots. Often, breast reconstruction surgery is covered by insurance.

All in all, battling breast cancer does not need to feel like an impossible fight. By researching all the treatment options and creating a specific plan with your doctor, you can feel more confident in your fight against this disease.