Breast cancer is the presence of malignant cancer cells in the breast area of a patient. It is ranked as the second cause of death in females suffering from cancer. There are several treatments available such as surgery; radiation therapy, and systemic therapy.
In certain stages of breast cancer, undergoing surgery and removing the lump may be enough to stop the spread of cancer. The process may include taking a larger chunk of the mammary gland, making sure that the affected area and a substantial margin is surgically removed. If the tissue removed is believed not to eliminate all the cancer cells, a follow-up surgery may be required.
Radiation therapy is a process where high powered X-rays or gamma rays are used to accurately pinpoint the cancer cells. This method is very effective in eliminating cancer cells that threaten to recur in the body of the patient.
This option is taken usually only after surgery is performed. Radiation therapy is administrated to eliminate the chance of the cancer cells to come back again.
Administering this form of treatment usually is done over a long period of five to seven weeks, five days a week for about 15 minutes per session. Radiation therapy can not be a one-time thing because by proceeding with the treatment, normal healthy cells are also damaged during the process. Unlike cancer cells, healthy cells can repair themselves, and by limiting the dosage taken by the body per session, it allows the body to heal the damaged cells.
Some side-effects that come from radiation therapy are: fatigue due to the body's repairing of the cells; reddening of the skin; muscle stiffness; mild swelling; tenderness in the treated area; long term shrinking of the irradiated breast.
There are three types of systemic therapy: chemotherapy; hormonal treatment; and immune treatment.
Chemotherapy can be administrated before and after the surgery. It is used to shrink the size of the tumor and also to stop it from repeating again.
Patients that are positive for estrogen receptor tumors are advised to receive hormonal treatment after going through chemotherapy.
Usually immune treatment is only administered to patients who have metastasized diseases, but unfortunately studies have shown that patients in the early stages of breast cancer will have significant benefits by getting this treatment.