Therapy in breast cancer

Treatment depends on the type of cancer and should be agreed between the patient and medical oncologist.

Basically the types of therapy are systemic (if they involve the whole body in reducing cancer cells: chemotherapy and hormonal therapy are the example) or local (radiotherapy and surgery aimed to destroy and eliminate cancer cells in a fixed area).

It is often necessary to associate a systemic treatment to a local treatment, sequentially or simultaneously.

Surgical treatment is the most common, with different types of surgery (removal of the breast, tumorectomy, quadrantectomy, lumpectomy).

Usually, surgery is followed by radiation therapy to destroy any remaining cancer cell. In most cases, the surgeon also removes lymph nodes under the arm to see whether or not cancer cells have invaded the lymphatic system.

Conservative treatment of breast, followed by six weeks of external beam radiotherapy, has proven to be equivalent to mastectomy and is the gold standard in the treatment of early breast cancer.

Chemotherapy is given in cycles: a treatment period followed by a rest period, then another treatment and so on.

The drugs used are cocktails of anti-tumor and may require hospitalization.

The treatment of breast cancer is multidisciplinary and requires a strong collaboration among specialists. The Surgeon may intervene in the right way because of the detailed information provided by the radiologist and the pathologist. The nuclear physician is then required to identify the precise site of the tumor and sentinel lymph node, the plastic surgeon in the reconstruction phase. Surgeon, oncologist and radiation oncologist plan together the treatment after surgery, view the final histological examination of breast cancer by pathological anatomy.