Once breast cancer is diagnosed, the decisions regarding how the oncologist (cancer doctor) and patient agree on the treatment for the cancer depends on the kind of breast cancer and the extent (spread) of the cancer. Traditional treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological therapy, and radiation therapy.
Surgery for breast cancer involves an operation to remove the cancerous tissues and often some surrounding tissue that will be examined under a pathologist’s microscope to increase the likelihood that the cancer has been removed. The surgery can be localized just to the effected breast or may include removal of lymph nodes under the arm or even more extensive surgery depending upon the type of cancer and the size and location of the cancerous tumor. Multiple surgeries may be necessary over the course of treatment to insure the best possible cancer treatment outcome.
Chemotherapy involves the use of specialized and often powerful drugs to shrink the size of the tumor or kill the cancer in its entirety. Some chemotherapy medicines can be taken orally in pill form and others must be given by IV (through a tube into a vein). The medical oncologist is a cancer specialist who will determine the best drug(s) to be used, how much and how often the drugs will be given, and the best methods for using the drugs.
Hormonal therapy seeks to prevent certain cancers from getting and using the hormones that they need to grow. The oncologist will determine if the specific cancer being targeted is appropriate for treatment by the hormonal therapies available. Hormonal therapy may be used in addition to other forms of cancer treatments.
Biological therapy helps the body’s immune system to fight the cancer and may also be used to help minimize the side effects of the other cancer treatments being used.
Radiation therapy uses high energy rays that are more powerful than standard diagnostic x-rays that are focused on the cancerous tumor in order to destroy the cancer cells. Although the technology has gotten better over time, nearby noncancerous cells may also be affected by the treatment. The oncologists who provide radiation therapy for cancer treatment are known as radiation oncologists.
New and sometimes bettter cancer treatments are being researched all the time. As new treatment options are being developed, they are often researched by specialists using small groups of patients in what are known as clinical trials. Information regarding clinical trials may be obtained from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) (http://www.cancer.gov/clinicaltrials/search/) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/).
There are other options that may be used in addition to the traditional cancer treatments. These include complementary medicine (additional medicines and/or medical practices in addition to standard treatments) and alternative medicine (medicines and/or medical practices that are different from the standard treatments). Any decisions regarding complementary medicine and/or alternative medicine should be fully discussed and explored between the patient and the health care providers.
If the misdiagnosis or late diagnosis of cancer caused you or a loved one additional injuries, damages, or death, visit our website to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your local area who may be able to assist you with your medical malpractice claim or telephone us toll free at 800-295-3959.