Breast Cancer Treatment

People with breast cancer now have more reasons to be hopeful than ever before, thanks to continuing research and the development of new treatment methods.

Taking Charge of Your Treatment

Learn how to empower yourself in the fight against cancer with Your Guide to Cancer Care.

Your individual treatment options will depend on the size and specific location of the tumor, the stage — or progression — of the disease, and the results of lab tests, including hormone receptor tests and tumor marker tests, among many other factors. Your doctor will also consider your personal history, such as your age, your menopausal status, and the general state of your health.

You may have the impression that your treatment is completely in the hands of your doctors. But that’s not the case. You can be an active participant in decisions about your care and empower yourself by learning the conventional and complementary therapies that may be available to you.

Discover the various breast cancer treatment options offered by Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

Learn about:

A second opinion

Doctor’s Note

Dr. Dennis Citrin of Cancer Treatment Centers of America discusses the latest breakthroughs in breast cancer treatment.

Before starting therapy, you should get a second opinion about your diagnosis as well as the treatment options available to you. Some insurance companies require a second opinion before they will pay for your treatment. Others may cover a second opinion if you or your doctor requests it.

In addition, some insurance companies require that you get pre-certification for a second opinion. You should ask whether this is required before going for your appointment.

To get a second opinion, you’ll need to gather your medical records, including:

  • Mammogram films
  • Biopsy slides
  • Pathology report
  • Proposed treatment plan

A second opinion about your diagnosis

To get a second opinion about your diagnosis, you’ll need to find a breast pathologist at a hospital or cancer center to review your breast tissue slides and prepare a second pathology report.

The reason this is so important is that the best course of treatment for your cancer depends on your diagnosis. That means you need to make sure that the diagnosis is accurate and that there are no differences of opinion about how to interpret your test results.

A second opinion about your treatment

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, you’ll also want to see another doctor for a second opinion about the treatment options available to you.

Words to Know

Oncologists are physicians who study, diagnose, and treat cancer. Each specializes in a specific area, such as cancers of the reproductive system or blood. A surgical oncologist specializes in cancer surgery.

Loyalty to the first oncologist you see isn’t something you should be concerned about. In fact, most oncologists expect you to get a second opinion, and some will even refer you to another specialist for a different perspective. Doctors can have diverse treatment philosophies, so don’t be surprised if the second doctor’s recommendations differ from those of your original oncologist.

If the two doctors have radically divergent opinions, you’ll have to make a decision about which approach — and doctor — you’re more comfortable with, or you can seek a third perspective.

Taking the time you need

It may take a few weeks or more for you to gather your records, get a second — or even third — opinion, and decide on a course of treatment. If you’re concerned whether the delay could adversely affect your health, you should discuss it with your doctors and ask them how long you can afford to take to make a decision.

While you don’t want to put off starting treatment unnecessarily, in the majority of cases, a delay of several weeks or even longer makes no difference. And it’s important that you feel confident that you have as much information as possible available to you and are taking the best course of action.

Local vs. systemic treatment

Conventional Medicine

Learn the basics of conventional therapies in Your Guide to Cancer Care.

You may receive local treatment for your breast cancer that targets the site of the cancer and any metastases, or areas where the cancer has spread. Local breast cancer treatments are designed to remove, destroy, or control the cancer cells in a specific area.

Or you may receive systemic breast cancer treatments that are used to destroy or control cancer cells throughout the body.

Words to Know

Pre-certification means that you must obtain authorization from your insurance company before it will agree to pay for certain consultations, procedures, or treatments. In some cases, the doctor’s office may take care of pre-certification. But be sure to check, because without pre-certification, you may have to pay for the medical expenses out-of-pocket.

Many people with breast cancer receive both local and systemic treatment. When you receive several therapies at the same time, it’s sometimes called combination or multimodality treatment.

Local treatments used in breast cancer therapy include:

Systemic treatments for breast cancer include:

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