Breast Cancer Treatment and Side Effects

This was originally published by breastcancer.org here.


In recent years, there’s been an explosion of life-saving treatment advances against breast cancer, bringing new hope and excitement. Instead of only one or two options, today there’s an overwhelming menu of treatment choices that fight the complex mix of cells in each individual cancer. The decisions — surgery, then perhaps radiation, hormonal (anti-estrogen) therapy, and/or chemotherapy — can feel overwhelming.

Breastcancer.org can help you understand your cancer stage and appropriate options, so you and your doctors can arrive at the best treatment plan for YOU.

In the following pages of the Treatment and Side Effects section, you can learn about:Planning Your Treatment What types of treatment are available, the most likely sequence of treatments, treatment options by cancer stage, and fitting treatment into your schedule.Getting a Second OpinionReasons for getting a second opinion about your treatment plan, how to go about getting one, and what to do once you’ve got it.SurgeryBreast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy), mastectomy, and lymph node dissection, and what to expect from each. Also included: Prophylactic surgery and breast reconstruction.ChemotherapyHow chemotherapy works, who should get it, different types and combinations, and side effects and how to manage them.Radiation TherapyHow radiation therapy works, who it’s for, advantages, side effects, and what to expect when you get it.Hormonal TherapyThe link between hormones and breast cancer and how different groups of drugs — including ERDs, SERMs, and aromatase inhibitors — can affect that link. Also covered: Side effects of hormonal therapies.Targeted TherapyHow different drugs work, who should get them, how they’re given, side effects, and major studies.ImmunotherapyWhat is immunotherapy, different types of immunotherapy, and who it’s for.Complementary and Holistic MedicineHow complementary medicine techniques such as acupuncture, meditation, and yoga could be a helpful addition to your regular medical treatment. Includes research on complementary techniques and ways to find qualified practitioners.Drugs for Treatment and Risk ReductionA reference list of drugs used to treat and reduce the risk of breast cancer, including how they work, to whom they are typically given, and side effects.Treatments for PainWays to treat cancer- and treatment-related pain, including types of medications and tips on talking to your doctors about pain.Treatment Side EffectsA reference list of side effects and ways to manage them.LymphedemaAll about lymphedema, including who is at risk, what to watch out for, how to reduce risk of lymphedema flare-ups, and how to find a lymphedema therapist.Clinical TrialsWhat clinical trials are and how they work, why they’re important, and how to find trials that may be appropriate for you.