Breast cancer treatment
Treatment for early or locally advanced breast cancer varies from person to person. The most suitable treatment for you will depend on your test results, where the cancer is in the breast, the cancer’s stage and grade, and whether the cancer is hormone receptor and/or HER2 positive or triple negative. Your doctor will also consider your age and general health, and what you want.
Research shows that exercising before, during and after treatment
can help people diagnosed with breast cancer.
Learn more about:
- Treatment options by type of breast cancer
- Radiation therapy
- Hormone therapy (only for ER+ and/or PR+ cancers)
- Targeted therapy (only for HER2+ cancers)
Treatment options by type of breast cancer
Usually more than one treatment is used, and treatments may be given in different orders and combinations.
Early breast cancer
The main options are either breast-conserving surgery and radiation therapy or a mastectomy . Often surgery is followed by a combination of chemotherapy, hormone therapy or targeted therapy depending on the features of the cancer. This is known as adjuvant therapy and it reduces the risk of the cancer coming back.
Locally advanced breast cancer
Often treated with chemotherapy before surgery. This is known as neoadjuvant chemotherapy. If the cancer is HER positive, you’ll also have targeted therapy. It’s common to be offered a mastectomy. If you have responded well to chemotherapy and the cancer has shrunk, you may be offered breast-conserving surgery. Surgery may be followed by radiation therapy, hormone therapy and/or targeted therapy depending on the features of the cancer.
Advanced breast cancer
When breast cancer has spread to other parts of the body, it is considered stage 4 (IV) and is called advanced or metastatic breast cancer.
You can also listen to our podcast for people affected by advanced cancer.
Podcast: Making Treatment Decisions
Prof Bruce Mann, Professor of Surgery, The University of Melbourne, and Director, Breast Tumour Stream, Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Marie Burke, Radiation Oncologist, and Medical Director GenesisCare Oncology, QLD; Dr Susan Fraser, Breast Physician, Cairns Hospital and Marlin Coast Surgery Cairns, QLD; Ruth Groom, Consumer; Julie McGirr, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria; A/Prof Catriona McNeil, Medical Oncologist, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; Dr Roya Merie, Staff Specialist, Radiation Oncology, Liverpool Cancer Therapy Centre, Liverpool Hospital, NSW; Dr Eva Nagy, Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon, Sydney Oncoplastic Surgery, NSW; Gay Refeld, Clinical Nurse Consultant – Breast Care, St John of God Subiaco Hospital, WA; Genny Springham, Consumer.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.