Understanding The Options of Breast Cancer Treatment
Knowing that you have breast cancer leaves you with a lot of questions and decisions that you need to make. One such decision is your treatment, and you need to know and understand the various treatment options available to you. In recent years there has been an explosion in the methods of treatment for breast cancer, which makes it possible for you to continue living a healthier life.
There are two overall treatment option categories:
- Local - Only the area around the tumor is targeted; for instance surgery or radiation.
- Systemic - Your whole body is targeted with cancer-fighting agents; for example, chemotherapy.
After you’re diagnosed, the doctor will discuss these options, and you can ask as many questions as you want to help you decide on the best treatment for you. The specific treatment depends on:
- The stage of the cancer and whether or not it has spread
- The type of cancer, and status of the estrogen, progesterone or HER2/neu receptors found in the cancer cells
- Your age, health and menstrual/menopausal stage
- And whether or not this is your first cancer treatment
If you are hesitant about your treatment options, you can always get a second opinion from some other expert. In fact, some health plans require a second opinion.
There are a number of options available for a woman diagnosed with breast cancer. Some women receive a combination of treatments. Each case is unique. You will have to sit with your medical team and discuss which option is most effective for you.
Standard Treatment vs. Clinical Trial
Before you select your treatment plan, it’s important that you understand the difference between standard treatment and clinical trials. Standard treatments are methods that are routinely used and have proven their worth.
A clinical trial is an approved research study that some doctors believe has a strong potential to improve standard treatments. If a clinical trial has a very good result, it becomes standard. All standard treatments used today have undergone clinical trials.