Breast cancer treatment
Treatment for early or locally advanced breast cancer varies from person to person. The treatment that’s best 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 treatment you want to have.
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
You will usually have more than one treatment, and they could be given in different orders or combinations.
Early breast cancer
Often surgery for breast cancer is followed by a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy or targeted therapy, depending on the features of the cancer. The treatment that is given after you have surgery is called adjuvant therapy, and it reduces the risk of the cancer coming back.
Chemotherapy or targeted therapy given before surgery is neoadjuvant therapy. Usually suggested for HER2+, triple negative and inflammatory breast cancers, it is also sometimes advised for hormone positive cancer.
Locally advanced breast cancer
Often treated with chemotherapy before surgery (called neoadjuvant therapy) to shrink the cancer. If the cancer is HER+, you’ll also usually have targeted therapy before surgery. It is common to be offered a mastectomy. If the chemotherapy has shrunk the cancer, you may be offered breast-conserving surgery instead. Surgery is usually followed by radiation therapy, hormone therapy and/or targeted therapy, depending on the cancer type.
Podcast: Making Treatment Decisions
A/Prof Elisabeth Elder, Specialist Breast Surgeon, Westmead Breast Cancer Institute and The University of Sydney, NSW; Collette Butler, Clinical Nurse Consultant and McGrath Breast Care Nurse, Cancer Support Centre, Launceston, TAS; Tania Cercone, Consumer; Kate Cox, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Dr Marcus Dreosti, Radiation Oncologist and Medical Director, GenesisCare, SA; Dr Susan Fraser, Breast Physician, Cairns Hospital and Marlin Coast Surgery Cairns, QLD; Dr Hilda High, Genetic Oncologist, Sydney Cancer Genetics, NSW; Prof David W Kissane AC, Chair of Palliative Medicine Research, The University of Notre Dame Australia, and St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney, NSW; Prof Sherene Loi, Medical Oncologist, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr W Kevin Patterson, Medical Oncologist, Adelaide Oncology and Haematology, SA; Angela Thomas, Consumer; Iwa Yeung, Physiotherapist, Princess Alexandra Hospital, QLD.
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