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New Treatment Options For Breast Cancer

Although surgery is the most effective (and hence, the most widely used) breast cancer treatment method, there are several other ways of dealing with the disease, some are more powerful than the others. These include radiation therapy, chemotherapy or hormonal therapy, each of them with their own assets and downsides.

Most of them however are used in combination with surgery for best effects, either prior to it, in order to reduce the size of the tumor or after the operation, in order to remove any remaining cancerous cells. For a better understanding of these alternative treatment methods for breast cancer, we’ll take a closer look at each, explaining how they work and in what cases they might prove useful.

Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy uses powerful gamma rays (x-rays) which target the specific area that needs to be treated with high precision. Usually, radiation therapy is performed after surgery, to destroy any cancer cells that have not been removed or the ones that formed up where the tumor was removed. Although it can’t be used as, a treatment on its own, radiation therapy is one of the most accepted post-surgery methods of breast conserving therapy (BCT) and has a high chance of stopping the cancer from recurring.

As with all treatments involving x-rays, there are some downsides to radiation therapy. First, in order to wipe out the cancerous cells that might have formed (or remained) in the area where the tumor was removed from, the x-rays will eventually damage some of the healthy tissue too. Although the process is highly precise, the rays cannot make a difference between cancerous and normal cells, so they “burn” them together.

Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy involves the administration of drugs that kill the cancer cells or stop them from growing. Most chemotherapy medications are given through an intravenous line, although some are administered in pill form. Chemotherapy is a harsh regime, which often makes people feel more ill than the illness they are suffering from; however, it has been proved very effective.

Chemotherapy is a great treatment method to use both prior and after surgery. With the help of this method, you can virtually contract the cancerous tumor before the actual surgery, making it easier and less complex to remove. In addition, chemotherapy is used in the same sense as radiation therapy after the surgical intervention, to stop the diseased cells to recur.

Chemotherapy is administered usually in cycles where each cycle consists of a period of intensive treatment that lasts for a few days or weeks followed by a week of recovery. Most patients with breast cancer have two to four cycles of chemotherapy to start with before tests are performed to see what effects it has had on the cancer.

Chemotherapy is different to radiation as it can treat the whole body with the potential of finding other tumor cells that have migrated from the breast and surrounding area. Many people are familiar with chemotherapy’s side effects although the side effects do depend upon drugs to treat the patient.

The most common side effects are loss of hair, loss of appetite, fatigue, vomiting and low blood cell count making the patient more susceptible to infections, feeling sick or tired. Many notice that they bleed more than usual, especially from gums, sores and small scrapes etc.

There are three different chemotherapy strategies are used in breast cancer:

Adjuvant chemotherapy – this is given to patients who have undergone curative treatment for breast cancer such as radiation or surgery. In order to decrease the possibility of the breast cancer recurrence, this treatment is given.

Pre-surgical chemotherapy – this is given to shrink a large tumor and/or to kill any stray cancerous cells. This will also increase the chance that the surgery will kill the cancer completely.

Regular chemotherapy – this is given routinely to people who have breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast or the surrounding local area.

Hormonal therapy may also be given, as many breast cancers such as those that have ample estrogens or progesterone receptors are sensitive to changes in hormones.

Tamoxifen Breast Cancer Treatment
Those women who are genetically at high risk of developing breast cancer may benefit from tamoxifen as it has previously been seen to decrease the incidence of the disease occurring. Raloxifene, which is used to treat osteoporosis, is now being studied for treating breast cancer.

In some breast cancer cases, a woman’s natural hormones are suppressed with drugs whereas other patients find benefits by adding hormones. Tamoxifen for instance is currently the most commonly prescribed effective hormone treatment. It can be used for treating breast cancer and in the prevention of breast cancer. Tamoxifen has few side effects and can considerably improve the life span of those women who have advanced cases of breast cancer.

Fulvestrant Breast Cancer Treatment
A further treatment, Fulvestrant has recently been approved in the USA. It is planned to be used for treating hormone receptor positive metastastic breast cancer in women who have been through the menopause. It is given following antiestrogen therapy.

Monoclonal Breast Cancer Treatment
Another treatment known as monoclonal is antibodies that are antagonistic against the proteins, which are in or around cancer cells. They recognise an invader such as a cancer cell and attack it. This antibody therapy is currently being investigated holds out a lot of hope for breast cancer sufferers.

Excessive alcohol intake and obesity following menopause can increase the risk of developing breast cancer although this increase is slight. Those physically active women have a lower risk.

Preventative or Prophylactic Mastectomies
More and more women who are at a high risk of developing breast cancer are having preventative or prophylactic mastectomies to avoid them developing breast cancer.

The main risk factors for women to develop breast are age, sex and genetics. Women can do nothing about some risks so preventing death caused due to breast cancer is recommended with regular screening.

Women should undertake regular screening including self-examination, mammography and clinical breast examinations.

I hope that reading the above information was both enjoyable and educational for you. That's how things stand right now. Keep in mind that any subject can change over time, so be sure you keep up with the latest news.

Summary:

The following article covers breast cancer treatment options including chemotherapy, radiation therapy and a glance on other new treatment options available to cure breast cancer. If you've been thinking you need to know more about it, here's your opportunity.

Submitted by:

Nishanth Reddy

Nishanth Reddy is an author and publisher of many health related websites. To learn more about Breast cancer symptoms, causes, stages and different treatment options available to cure Breast cancer, visit his website at http://www.breastcancer-infoguide.com




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