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What Is The Best Breast Cancer Treatment?
It’s the thing that every woman hopes not to happen during a monthly self-examination. You find a lump. You go to the doctor. And the doctor, after a test or two, shakes his or her head and says, “I’m sorry – but we found breast cancer.” What happens now? What’s going to happen to you?
One of the first things your doctor will do (after the usual battery of tests, etc) is begin to explain the various options available for breast cancer treatment. With breast cancer, four main options of breast cancer treatment are usually used in conventional medicine: surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone treatment.
Exactly which breast cancer treatment is best for you will depend on you (your age, general health and your personal preferences (to a certain extent)) and on the cancer. Some breast cancer treatment options may not be helpful if the cancer is spreading quickly or has already spread.
Surgery is the most widely known form of breast cancer treatment. It sounds barbaric – and in some ways, it is – but the fact remains that a breast is a non-vital body part that can be removed or operated on without much difficulty. Surgery for breast cancer treatment usually removes one or all of the following: removal of the lymph nodes in the armpit, removal of the cancerous lump or removal of an entire breast.
Removal of part of the breast is referred to as a “lumpectomy”. A lumpectomy is a form of breast cancer treatment that does not mean that you will lose an essential part of your femininity. Removal of the whole breast is called mastectomy. This form of breast cancer treatment can be very upsetting, but these days, the surgeons know how to perform mastectomies in such a way that breast reconstruction surgery (a similar process to cosmetic breast enhancement) can take place.
Surgery is often used alongside radiotherapy. This combined form of breast cancer treatment is the most effective if the cancer is detected early. The surgery removes the major source of the cancer, while the radiotherapy makes sure that no cancerous cells are “hiding” elsewhere in the system. Lumpectomies are always followed by radiotherapy.
Radiotherapy is used to treat other types of cancer and not just as a breast cancer treatment. The same is true of chemotherapy. Both radiotherapy and chemotherapy work by exposing the cancerous cells to either radiation or chemicals that kill the slightly more vulnerable cancer cells but don’t kill the healthy cells. Chemotherapy is more commonly used as a breast cancer treatment for older or more advanced cancers that have spread through the body, as chemotherapy works on the whole body, rather than just part of it, like radiotherapy does.
Hormones are one form of breast cancer treatment that is still being researched. Evidence seems to suggest that female hormones play a role in not only breast cancer but also development of breast cancer (this is why there is a possible link between breast cancer and lifestyle factors such as taking contraceptive pills, family size, age at which a woman first gives birth, whether or not a woman breastfeeds a child and/or abortion). Hormone breast cancer treatment prevents the ovaries from releasing estrogen and progesterone, which “starves” the cancer of these hormones, which limits its chance of spreading further or growing.
Hormone breast cancer treatment is most often in early breast cancers alongside other breast cancer treatment methods.
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