5. Medications and Treatment

There are several treatment options available for breast cancer, including surgeries and drugs. Your doctor will create a treatment plan based on the type of cancer you have and what stage it’s in.

Surgeries for Breast Cancer

  • Lumpectomy: Only the tumor and a small amount of surrounding tissue are removed.
  • Mastectomy: The entire breast and surrounding breast tissue is removed.
  • Lymph Node Removal: Lymph nodes under the arm are removed during lumpectomy or mastectomy if they are found to be affected by breast cancer.
  • Breast Reconstruction: The rebuilding of the breast after mastectomy or lumpectomy. Reconstruction can take place at the same time as cancer-removing surgery, or months to years later.
  • Prophylactic Mastectomy: Preventive removal of the breast to lower the risk of breast cancer in high-risk patients
  • Prophylactic Ovary Removal: Preventive surgery that lowers the amount of estrogen in the body, making it harder for breast cancer to develop in high-risk patients

Non-Surgical Treatments for Breast Cancer

  • Chemotherapy: In early stage breast cancer, standard chemotherapy lowers the risk of the cancer coming back. In advanced breast cancer, chemotherapy makes the cancer shrink or disappear in about 30-60% of people treated.
  • Radiation Therapy: Highly effective way to destroy cancer cells in the breast that may stick around after surgery. It reduces the risk of recurrence by 70%.
  • Hormonal Therapy: Lowers the amount of the hormone estrogen in the body. Blocks the effect of estrogen on breast cancer cells.
  • Targeted Therapy: Targets specific characteristics of cancer cells, such as a protein, that allows the cancer cells to grow in a rapid or abnormal way.
  • Pain Management: Pain treatment options depend on the type of pain involved and the patient’s overall health.


American Cancer Society, Breast Cancer, http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/detailedguide/index

National Cancer Institute, Breast Cancer-Patient Version, https://www.cancer.gov/types/breast

American Academy of Family Physicians, Breast Cancer, https://familydoctor.org/condition/breast-cancer/?adfree=true