Breast Cancer Treatment
Once a cancer has been detected, biopsied and “staged,” your team of specialists in medical oncology, surgery, radiation oncology, radiology and pathology will work together to assess your best course of breast cancer treatment. This will include formulating a coordinated plan of personalized treatment consistent with the highest standards of care. Your treatment will be tailored to your specific type of breast cancer, and it may involve a combination of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormonal drugs or targeted therapies.
In addition, WellStar Breast Cancer Conferences allow individual patients to be discussed by a group of breast cancer specialists to determine the most appropriate treatments.
Breast Cancer Surgery
Wellstar offers a wide network of dedicated breast cancer surgeons, with several serving in leadership roles for the American Society of Breast Surgeons and participating in national education programs for minimally invasive approaches to breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Surgical approaches for breast cancer include:
- Lumpectomy: Depending on the size of the tumor and the type of cells, your WellStar doctor might recommend a lumpectomy. A Lumpectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the tumor and a margin of normal tissue surrounding the tumor site, while sparing the rest of the breast. For those who qualify for such a procedure, the survival rate of this breast conservation method is now equal to that of a mastectomy. Often lumpectomies are followed by radiation treatment.
- Mastectomy: A mastectomy involves the surgical removal of the breast. Mastectomy is sometimes the treatment of choice for certain size, location and types of breast cancer in order to provide local control of the disease.
- Lymph nodes under the arm may be removed in association with a lumpectomy or mastectomy. WellStar’s breast surgeons were early adopters of Sentinel lymph node biopsy which allows fewer lymph nodes to be removed.
- A plastic surgeon, who will sculpt a new breast, will be part of the WellStar breast cancer team.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs given by mouth or injection to destroy cancer cells. It can be used to assist in the cure of cancer patients or to prolong life or the quality of life. Adjuvant chemotherapy is administered after surgery in certain circumstances when the patient is at high risk for recurrence.
Medical oncologists at WellStar believe in a personalized approach to breast cancer therapy – often guided by the genetics of the cancer and the condition of the patient.
Radiation therapy for breast cancer involves the use of high-energy radiation and/or radioactive substances to destroy breast cancer cells or prevent the cells from reproducing. Wellstar offers standard radiation and cutting edge techniques, including:
- APBI or accelerated partial breast irradiation – which allows patients to complete their treatment in five days, versus the traditional five-to-six week regimen. WellStar specializes in APBI , with more than 1,200 cases performed. Typically, this is performed by placing radioactive seeds in the lumpectomy cavity to treat the surrounding tissue. About 80 percent of patients in the early stages of breast cancer could be eligible for a APBI.
- High-Dose Rate (HDR) brachytherapy, an internal radiation therapy, which offers a fast, powerful and precise way to deliver radiation directly to breast tumors.