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Treatment

 
Treatment

Chapter: 6 - Treatment

Subchapter: 3 - Surgery

The first step and most common form of treatment for breast cancer is surgery. This involves removing the tumor and getting clear the margins; the margin is the surrounding tissue that might be cancerous. The goal of surgery is to remove not only the tumor, but also enough of the margin to be able to test for the spread of the cancer.

Some people with Stage 2 or 3 cancer may receive chemotherapy first, which is known as “pre-operative “ or “neoadjuvant” chemotherapy. The goal is to shrink the tumor. By making it smaller, you may have the option of a breast-conserving surgery or lumpectomy.

Mastectomy
In the past, surgery often required removing the, entire breast, chest wall
and all axillary lymph nodes in a procedure called a radical mastectomy. While mastectomies are less common today, there are instances in which this surgery is the best option to treat the cancer.

The more common mastectomy procedures are:

- Simple Mastectomy, also known as total mastectomy, which requires removal of the breast, nipple,areola
and sentinel lymph node or nodes.

- Modified Radical Mastectomy, which requires removal of the
entire breast, nipple, areola
and axillary lymph nodes.

- Skin-Sparing Mastectomy, which requires removal of the, breast, nipple, areola and sentinel lymph node (or nodes) but not the breast skin.

If you are thinking about breast reconstruction, you should consult your medical team before the mastectomy. Even if you plan to have your reconstruction later, this is a way for you to learn about your options.

Related Questions

  • sylvia clark Profile

    Hi, I got diagnosed breast cancer a month ago. I have gone through tons of tests, but no PET SCAN.. Should I ask for one? I have surgery next week, but I have not yet met the oncologist.. Should I be concered?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 6 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      My treatment started in 2006 so I also had a ton of tests pre-surgery. I had a CT-Scan instead of a PET Scan, a MUGA, Bone Scan, MRI. I did meet the Oncologist before I had surgery. It was a really miserable time mentally for me. It all happened so fast and it was frightening to me. I had so...

      more

      My treatment started in 2006 so I also had a ton of tests pre-surgery. I had a CT-Scan instead of a PET Scan, a MUGA, Bone Scan, MRI. I did meet the Oncologist before I had surgery. It was a really miserable time mentally for me. It all happened so fast and it was frightening to me. I had so many questions and as the tests came back my treatment plan became more clear. If I were you, I would talk to your surgeon or oncologist about why you are not receiving a PET scan. They may not feel you need it as they have the pre-diagnostics that are needed for you specific case. Treatment is now very specific and no two women are treated the same way. It all depends on the specific cells that make up your tumor.

      This is the type of situation you are going in to you need to ask questions and have an answer that will put your mind to rest. Don't be the least bit shy about speaking up about anything. You are going to be your own best advocate. I was able to save myself a second horrific reaction to a medication because the oncologist's office had made a mistake on my chemo "recipe." The infusion nurse and I got into a discussion because she was blowing off my concern. Turns out, I was right, she was wrong. She said, "It's a good thing you were so insistant." (duh...) So... start learning to speak up.... be respectful, but ask your questions. Good luck, I hope you hang out on this board... there are wonderful caring women on this site.

      3 comments
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Hi Sylvia. I was given a PET scan prior to the beginning of my treatment, but I had chemo first, then my bilateral mastectomy. I'm not sure it that has anything to do with it or not. I would certainly ask the reasoning behind that decision. You mentioned that you haven't met with your oncologist...

      more

      Hi Sylvia. I was given a PET scan prior to the beginning of my treatment, but I had chemo first, then my bilateral mastectomy. I'm not sure it that has anything to do with it or not. I would certainly ask the reasoning behind that decision. You mentioned that you haven't met with your oncologist yet. Do you mean your surgical oncologist (who performs your surgery) or your medical oncologist (who performs your chemo)? If its your surgical oncologist, he/she should be meeting with you soon to discuss the procedure & answer any questions you might have. I would definitely call their office & find out what's going on.

      Comment
  • Sheila Anderson Profile

    I am waiting on biopsy of my breast. Has anyone had double mastectomy with reconstruction? I was thinking implants. Wanted to think about treatment options. Is it a good idea to take everything out to save my life and prevent recurrence ?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 6 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Ana Naluh Andrade Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      That's exactly what I did. Both surgeons, oncologist and plastic, working together, at the same surgery. I had expanders put on. It's really uncomfortable, but they're temporary. Now I'm done, with the right implants on, niples and tattoos! No regrets at all!!

      1 comment
    • Casey Chernes Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Hi, I had a lump in my right breast... Was diagnosed stage 2 before surgery... They can't do full staging until after surgery... I chose a double mastectomy hoping my chances of reacurance would be lessened... I had the DIEP flap reconstruction... Had a little trouble with my left breast nit...

      more

      Hi, I had a lump in my right breast... Was diagnosed stage 2 before surgery... They can't do full staging until after surgery... I chose a double mastectomy hoping my chances of reacurance would be lessened... I had the DIEP flap reconstruction... Had a little trouble with my left breast nit taking so I will have to have an implant on the left... But everyone is different... Hope this helped!

      Comment
  • Susie Que Profile

    I am getting ready to shave my head can anyone tell me is is better to go really short or short

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 2B Patient
    about 6 years 6 answers
    • View all 6 answers
    • Isabel Souchet Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2010

      I had my hairdresser friend shave it very close, but not bald. I lost it all before my third treatment. I had a great wig I got online, synthetic, looked just like my hair. Now a year later my hair grew back much nicer than before

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      I took my horse's clippers and shaved my head. I just found it to be most disturbing to have my hair coming out in clumps. I just wanted to get past that --side effect-- asap. My horse clippers took care of that! I slept in a cap that someone had knitted out of baby yarn. It was very soft...

      more

      I took my horse's clippers and shaved my head. I just found it to be most disturbing to have my hair coming out in clumps. I just wanted to get past that --side effect-- asap. My horse clippers took care of that! I slept in a cap that someone had knitted out of baby yarn. It was very soft and kept my head warm too. Good luck to you and God's blessings.
      Sharon

      1 comment
  • Christine Horne  Profile

    I have. Just been diagnosed my doctor is recommending a mastectomy and I am very confused not sure what to do?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 4 years 7 answers
    • View all 7 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Christine, when I heard those words, "You have breast cancer" I thought it was the end of my life. It is devastating to every woman who gets that awful news. I think you are missing some important pieces of the diagnosis and only heard a couple of things... cancer and mastectomy. You are...

      more

      Christine, when I heard those words, "You have breast cancer" I thought it was the end of my life. It is devastating to every woman who gets that awful news. I think you are missing some important pieces of the diagnosis and only heard a couple of things... cancer and mastectomy. You are probably in a bit of feeling of shock and we all understand where you are at right now. As Brandi has said, you need to take someone with you who can take notes for you or record what is said at your appointment. Some facts you need: What type of breast cancer do I have? What is the stage, grade, and the hormone status. What treatment is needed? What additional testing will I need before I start treatment? CAT Scan, PET Scan? Bone Scan? MUGA, MRI? Do you think lymph nodes are involved? Will I need BRCA genetic testing? (done if you have mom, grandmother, sisters with breast cancer) Will I need chemotherapy and/or radiation, and hormone therapy? These are some important question you need to ask and have answered. Every breast cancer is a little bit different and thankfully, your treatment will be tailor made just for you. We have either been through treatment or are going through it. I would be very selective what you read on the internet, it can scare you terribly, and may be out of date or not be related to your cancer. We are here to help you through this. We aren't doctors but we can share our experiences with you. Collectively, we have been through it all and are here to do what we can for you. Please hang out with us, you will make it. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • Brandi Mixon Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      First things first! Sit down, take a deep breath, try to relax! This is scary and yes you feel like you have to rush your decision. Take a little bit of time and study all your options. There are a lot of them out there. Any question you think of, write it down so you'll have it when you go back...

      more

      First things first! Sit down, take a deep breath, try to relax! This is scary and yes you feel like you have to rush your decision. Take a little bit of time and study all your options. There are a lot of them out there. Any question you think of, write it down so you'll have it when you go back to the doctor. No matter how silly or insignificant you think the question is, write it down and ask it. You need to do research but don't go to too many web sites, not all are reliable! The American Cancer Society site is the best that I found. There is also the American Breast Cancer Foundation. Talk to your family, honestly! When you go back to the doctor take someone you trust with you. If possible record your conversation so you can go back and listen to it before you make your decision! You're at the right place. Just remember, we are not doctors, just women like you that have heard those same four words "It is breast cancer." That's where everyone's journey starts! God bless you!!!

      Comment

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