Breast Cancer (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
When making decisions about treatment, you and your doctor will consider many things, such as your age and health, the type of breast cancer you have, and how likely it is to spread.
Breast cancer is usually treated with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or targeted therapy.
Types of treatment
In some cases, chemotherapy or hormone therapy is used before surgery to shrink the breast cancer. This may mean that less breast tissue has to be removed during surgery.
Depending on the tumor's size and whether cancer has spread to your lymph nodes, you may have several treatment options. Hormone therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of the two treatments may be used after surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells. This also lowers the chances that the cancer will come back. Your doctor may suggest gene tests to find out if chemotherapy will help.
Side effects of treatment
For more information about specific breast cancer treatments, see the topics:
Coping with emotions
When you first find out that you have cancer, you may feel scared or angry. Or you may feel very calm. It's normal to have a wide range of feelings and for those feelings to change quickly. Some people find that it helps to talk about their feelings with family and friends.
If your emotional reaction to cancer gets in the way of your ability to make decisions about your health, it's important to talk with your doctor. Your cancer treatment center may offer psychological or financial services. And a local chapter of the American Cancer Society can help you find a support group.
Body image and sexual problems
Your feelings about your body may change after treatment for breast cancer. Managing body image issues may involve talking openly about your concerns with your partner and discussing your feelings with your doctor. Your doctor may be able to refer you to groups that can offer support and information.
Sexual problems can be caused by the physical or emotional effects of cancer or its treatment. Some women may feel less sexual pleasure or lose their desire to be intimate. For more information, see the topic Sexual Problems in Women.
After the initial treatment for breast cancer, you may see your family doctor, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, or surgeon at regularly scheduled intervals, depending on your individual situation. Your checkups will happen less often as time goes by.
As part of your follow-up, you may have regular physical exams and mammograms.
It's also important to do regular self-exams. That way, if the cancer does come back, you have a better chance of finding it early enough for successful treatment. Early signs of recurrence may appear in the incision area itself, the opposite breast, under your arm, or in the area above the collarbone.
If your breast cancer tested positive for estrogen and progesterone receptors, your doctor may prescribe medicines that can lower your risk of the cancer coming back. For more information, see Medications.
For information about the treatment of metastatic or recurrent breast cancer, see the topic Breast Cancer, Metastatic or Recurrent.
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