What are the different treatments for breast cancer?
- Diagnosis of Breast Cancer
- Radiation Therapy
- Hormone Therapy
- Targeted Therapy
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As part of an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease, we are here to tell you all about breast cancer treatment in the Philippines.
When it comes to breast cancer, we cannot stress enough the importance of early detection as there are groundbreaking treatments for those whose cancer cells are detected early. Continue reading to learn more about them.
How Is Breast Cancer Diagnosed?
When you schedule a checkup at Perpetual Help Medical Center-Las Pinas, you will first be asked about your medical history. Your attending physician will check your breasts and lymph nodes in the armpit, feeling for any abnormalities such as lumps. Afterward, you will be asked to undergo tests. This could be a breast ultrasound, a mammogram, breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or a biopsy.
Once cancer cells are discovered, a staging process will be done to determine if these have spread across the body. Then, the following treatments may be recommended:
Certain surgeries may be recommended for breast cancer patients as part of their treatment. This is done depending on the situation at hand. The different types of surgery that may be administered include the following:
- Mastectomy – removal of the whole breast
- Lumpectomy – removing only the tumor and the surrounding breast tissues
- Breast Reconstruction – the rebuilding of the breast’s shape after a mastectomy or lumpectomy
- Lymph Node Removal – this is done if the biopsy shows that the cancer cells have spread outside the lymph nodes
Remember, your doctors will always know what’s best for you. Make sure that you communicate with them and ask for their advice on what surgery should be done.
Chemotherapy is a treatment that uses one or more drugs to either destroy the cancer cells or slow down their growth. The drugs are taken orally or administered intravenously, where medicine travels in the bloodstream throughout the entire body.
Chemotherapy is offered based on various factors such as tumor type, tumor grade, tumor size, the number of lymph nodes involved, and the risk for cancer cells to spread throughout the body. It is commonly prescribed along with hormonal and targeted therapies to help shrink a tumor before surgery.
The treatment’s duration also varies. It will depend on how well it works and how well your body will tolerate it.
This type of treatment makes use of high-energy beams to destroy cancer cells. This is typically done to reduce the risk of cancer recurring in the affected breast.
There are two kinds of radiation therapy: External Beam Radiation and Internal Breast Cancer Radiation. External Beam Radiation targets cancer cells through a high-energy x-ray or electron beams. On the other hand, Internal Breast Cancer Radiation deals with inserting radioactive liquid into the body to target cancerous areas.
Doctors typically administer radiation therapy three to four weeks after mastectomy surgery.
Body glands produce hormones like estrogen and progesterone. However, some cancer cells are sensitive to hormones. Doctors refer to these as estrogen receptor-positive (ER positive) and progesterone receptor-positive (PR positive) cancer cells.
If hormone therapy is done before or after surgery, it can decrease the chances of the cancer cells from returning. However, if the cancer cells have already spread, hormone therapy will help block the hormones that fuel cancer cell growth.
Targeted therapy is among the newer treatments for breast cancer. It works by administering drugs that attack breast cancer cells without harming the body’s normal and healthy cells. For example, targeted therapy drugs block an abnormal protein (such as HER2), which helps the growth of breast cancer cells.
The immune system has a tough time recognizing cancer cells because they start out as normal healthy cells. Immunotherapy works by stimulating the body’s immune system to work harder to attack breast cancer cells. Additionally, immunotherapy is combined with chemotherapy to treat advanced cancer stages.
It is extremely important to visit your doctor when you feel abnormalities around your breast area. As part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are here to tell you that early detection is vital. Some patients discover later on that they have higher stages of breast cancer, making the treatments less effective.
Here at Perpetual Help Medical Center-Las Pinas, we believe that every patient who is diagnosed should be given options for breast cancer treatment in the Philippines.
Visit us today to learn about the different treatments we offer.