There are several ways to treat breast cancer, depending on the type and stage of the cancer as well as other factors. Usually, two or more methods are used in combination.
Local treatment methods take effect only in the area of the body where they are applied. Surgery and radiation therapy are examples of local treatments.
Systemic treatment methods take effect in the entire body. Chemotherapy, hormone therapy and HER-2 therapy are systemic treatments. They are given when there is a possibility that breast cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Finding the right treatment for you
Your health care team will carefully consider the characteristics of your cancer. Using information about your condition, and drawing on their experience of treating many patients with breast cancer, they will make recommendations for your treatment plan.
Your preferences are also important in making decisions about your treatment. Each method of treatment has benefits, limitations and side effects. For example, if you are in your child-bearing years you may have concerns about fertility. To make an informed decision about your breast cancer treatment, it is important to know something about each treatment method and what to expect from it.
One of the first questions to ask your health care team is how much time you have to make decisions before your treatment should begin. Usually you can take some time before starting treatment to learn about your options and make informed decisions about your treatment plan with your health care team.