When someone is diagnosed with breast cancer, there is one prevailing question: how can it be treated? As with any cancer there are three major treatments types available, as well as a few more differential techniques that aren’t as popular. Don’t know what those treatment types are? This page will highlight the main treatments available here in the UK.
If you have no idea what chemotherapy is don’t worry. It has to be simply viewed as the treatment of any cancer with the use of anti-cancer drugs. These are very strong drugs which aim to confuse any tumour and stop growth. It is either used as a main avenue of treatment, or in part with another treatment type as a way of minimising a tumour’s size or to stop the spread of a cancer, especially in the case of someone who has been diagnosed with secondary breast cancer. Now chemotherapy isn’t done by taking a lot of tablets, but through a drip. The drugs are put directly in to the bloodstream and treatment is carried out in cycles wherein someone receives chemo for a few days, then lets the body work out what the drug has to do for a few weeks before going through with another session.
Seen as the quickest route for removing any cancer, surgery still involves a lot of planning. One has to consider what type of surgery they need to have. A person might have a lumpectomy where the cancer and some surrounding tissue is removed, or a mastectomy which you’ve probably heard of before, that has all of the tissue in the breast removed (this is more likely if a person has more than one lump, a lump right in the middle or already has been diagnosed with secondary breast cancer). Of course there are questions that need to be answered before and after treatment. Someone might have to consider breast reconstruction after surgery and should know that any surgery will involve going through a course of radiotherapy on any breast tissue that is still possibly affected.
Now this treatment type is similar to chemotherapy in that it takes place over a period of time, but radiotherapy is the shortest treatment type and one that requires patience above all else. It works quite simply. Your tumour is located by scans and then a radiographer targets the specific area and radiation is directed right at it. It doesn’t hurt and you won’t feel a thing. So why does it happen over a long period? Radiotherapy is a weird treatment because you are intentionally harming the body in a very specific manner in order to make yourself better. Just because you can’t feel it, doesn’t mean it won’t do any harm. If someone was to go through all their radiotherapy in one session, their body wouldn’t react to it positively at all.
If you’re wondering about other treatment types, the main alternatives to these three include hormone therapy (usually done in line with chemotherapy), ovarian oblation (where the ovaries are essentially ‘turned off’ to lower oestrogen levels) and biological therapy (which only works in a rare number of cases). Knowing what type of treatment to get all depends on how the individual case is diagnosed.