Surgery is a common treatment approach for breast cancer patients, except possibly for those with advanced cancer that has spread to other organs in the body, such as the lungs, brain, or liver. The surgical approach is either a mastectomy, which is the removal of one or both breasts, or a lumpectomy (generally done in the disease’s earliest stages, even pre-cancerous). The type of surgery depends on the severity of cancer.
With proper screening, it is possible to detect the disease in its earlier stages. Surgery can be followed by radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or hormone therapy (called adjunctive therapy), and oncologists may use chemo before surgery to shrink the size of a tumor. The patient’s health and strength may determine the use of these treatments, especially in older breast cancer patients who may not do well with consecutive sessions of chemo or radiotherapy, or choose to go without them. Patients should always discuss treatment options carefully with their physician before deciding on a particular treatment method.
If detected in early stages, endocrine adjuvants are sometimes recommended by physicians. Commonly recommended adjuvants include drug therapies like Tamoxifen, which reduces the ability of endocrinal estrogen to stimulate micrometastases, which is mainly responsible for invasive, advanced metastatic cancers.
Aromatase inhibitors restrict the formation of aromatase enzyme, which is responsible for converting other steroid hormones into estrogen. Taxanes and anthracyclines are two compounds which are commonly used in chemotherapy treatments.
Neoadjuvant, or pre-surgical, therapies are best suited for patients with HER2-positive but ER-negative cancers, which have a high chance of metastasizing. The most common regimen used in this case is the FAC regimen (doxorubicin in combination with fluorouracil and cyclophosphamide).
Combination therapy might be prescribed, depending on the state of cancer.
Proper care needs to be taken regarding patients’ diet and physical exercise, as they also play a key role in maintaining overall health while patients undergo rigorous treatment regimes.
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