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Home > All About Cancer > Cancer Fact Sheets > Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer

Causes & symptoms | Diagnosis | Questions

Types Of Treatment
The treatment of breast cancer depends on many factors, including:

The stage of the disease
Your age
Whether or not you have had menopause
The size of the tumour
What the cancer cells look like under the microscope
General health condition
Patient's choice

Four main types of treatment

Surgery
Radiotherapy
Chemotherapy
Hormonal therapy

Surgery
The most suitable surgery type depends on the size of the tumour, and whether the cancer has spread.

  • Lumpectomy
    The breast lump and some surrounding tissues will be removed. This method removes the least amount of breast tissue.
  • Segmentectomy (wide local excision)
    This is similar to a lumpectomy but it involves removing more breast tissue and it may be more visually noticeable
  • Mastectomy
    Removal of the whole breast (mastectomy) may be necessary because:
    • The breast lump is large
    • A small cancer is surrounded by a large area of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
    • There are several areas of cancer cells in different parts of the breast
    • The lump is just behind the nipple
  • Lymph gland removal
    As part of any breast cancer operation, lymph glands will usually be removed from under the arm of the side of the breast with cancer.
  • Breast reconstruction
    It is often possible for women who have had a mastectomy to have breast reconstruction. This can be done at the same time as the mastectomy, or at a later stage.

Radiotherapy
Radiotherapy treats cancer by using high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells, while doing as little harm as possible to normal cells. Two main types of radiotherapy are used to treat breast cancer: external radiotherapy and internal radiotherapy

Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is the use of anti-cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. They work by disrupting the growth and division of cancer cells. The drugs are sometimes given orally or more usually intravenously (injection into a vein).

Chemotherapy is given as a course of treatment. This is followed by a rest period of a few weeks, which allows your body to recover from any treatment side effects. Many people experience a few side effects, which can usually be controlled with medication.

Hormonal therapy
Hormonal therapy can slow or stop the growth of breast cancer cells by altering the levels of particular female hormones that are naturally produced in the body, preventing them from being taken up by the cancer cells.