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Breast Cancer Treatment

There are many options for treating hereditary cancers. Choice of treatment can be personalized based on cancer type, stage and genetics.

Breast cancer treatment types

There are two major treatment components for breast cancer.

Local therapy aims to treat the breast and the lymph nodes around the breast. Local therapies include:

  • surgery
  • radiotherapy (often called radiation). 

Systemic therapy aims to treat the entire body. Breast cancer cells can sometimes enter the bloodstream, and if the traveling cells are able to establish themselves in distant organs, this can lead to metastasis. Therefore, treating the entire body with medications to eradicate microscopic cancer cells that may have traveled elsewhere in the body is vital in preventing future metastases. Systemic therapy is also used to treat cancer that is metastatic and has already spread to distatn organs. Systemic therapies include:

  • chemotherapy
  • hormonal therapy
  • anti-Her2 therapy
  • PARP inhibitors

Timing of therapy

Systemic therapies may be given:

  • before surgery (called neo-adjuvant or pre-operative therapy)
  • after surgery in early stage cancer (called adjuvant therapy)
  • for treatment of recurrent or advanced cancers

updated 01/04/18

Updated 01/04/2018

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