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Breast cancer often uses different combinations of treatment.

Breast cancer often uses different combinations of treatment.
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Breast cancer treatment

It’s normal to feel shocked and to experience a range of emotions when first diagnosed with breast cancer but there are many treatment options now available so that breast cancer can be successfully treated.

The type of treatment for breast cancer depends on:

  • the type of breast cancer
  • the stage of breast cancer
  • whether breast cancer cells are positive for receptors, such as hormone receptors or HER2
  • where breast cancer is in the body
  • whether the woman has had breast cancer before and if so, what treatments she received
  • the woman’s age and general health
  • the woman’s preference.

Treatment options

Surgery

Breast conserving surgery involves removing the cancer and some healthy tissue from the breast while keeping the breast intact. A mastectomy involves removing the whole breast affected by the cancer. During breast surgery one or more lymph nodes are usually removed from the arm

Radiotherapy

Radiation is used to destroy any breast cancer cells left in the breast or breast tissue after surgery. Treatment usually is given over 5-6 weeks. Radiation therapy can also be used to reduce the size of the cancer before surgery and to relieve pain or other symptoms.

Chemotherapy

Anti-cancer drugs are given intravenously or orally to help destroy cancer cells that may have spread to other areas of the body undetected. It may be used in addition to surgery and radiation therapy.

Hormonal therapy

Hormonal therapy may be used to destroy remaining breast cancer cells or cancer cells that may have spread undetected. This drug treatment is used if the cancer cells are hormone-receptive.

Cancer Council Australia can provide more information on cancer treatments through their website at www.cancer.org.au. They also offer support for you and your loved ones via their helpline on 13 11 20.

Last reviewed: August 2016

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