How Do Doctors Treat Breast Cancer?

Surgery Treatment

  • Lumpectomy: also known as breast-sparing surgery, it involves removal of the tumor and a slight margin of healthy tissue that surrounds it. Physicians also recommend lumpectomy for most small tumors.
  • Mastectomy: this is surgical removal of the breast. A simple mastectomy means removing the fatty tissue, ducts, nipple, lobules, some skin, and areola. Meanwhile, a radical mastectomy involves removal of muscles of the chest wall and lymph nodes in the armpit.
  • Sentinel node biopsy: this is surgical removal of one lymph node to avoid spreading further into the body.
  • Axillary lymph node dissection: Furthermore, if cancer cells started in the sentinel node, the cancer treatment option of removing several armpit lymph nodes is the best option.
  • Breast reconstruction surgery: this option involves a series of surgical operations designed to reconstruct a breast. Furthermore, doctors perform this process at the same time with mastectomy. Lastly, patients can have a transplant of breast or tissue from another patient’s body.

Radiation Therapy (Radiotherapy)

Physicians base the type of radiation therapy they will use on the kind of breast cancer the person has. At times, they may not do radiotherapy at all. Here are the different types of radiation therapy:

  • Breast radiation therapy: Doctors administer radiation on the remaining breast tissue after a lumpectomy.
  • Chest wall radiation therapy: this cancer treatment option is effective after a mastectomy
  • Breast boost: Furthermore, they apply high doses of radiation where the tumor originally existed.
  • Lymph nodes radiation therapy: this is where physicians apply radiation directly to the axilla (armpit) and the immediate area to help destroy the cancer cells that have gotten to the lymph nodes.
  • Breast brachytherapy: This is a Five-Day treatment that destroys breast cancer cells after lumpectomy surgery.


Oncologists may commend chemotherapy if there are higher chances of cancer recurring, or when it is spreading to other body parts (adjuvant chemotherapy). Doctors may also administer this treatment when the cancer has spread to other areas.

This cancer treatment option is helpful as it reduces some of the signs and symptoms caused by cancer. Additionally, it may help stop production of estrogen which encourages the growth of some breast cancers.

Hormone Therapy (Hormone Blocking Therapy)

This treatment method is best for hormone-sensitive breast cancers or estrogen receptor positive (ER positive) and progesterone receptor positive (PR positive) cancers. Additionally, hormone therapy aims to prevent the recurrence of cancer and doctors usually do it after surgery, or at times beforehand to help shrink the tumor.

Lastly, for patients who cannot undergo radiotherapy, surgery or chemotherapy, hormone therapy is the only cancer treatment option recommended.


American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Retrieved July 15, 2017, from

Cancer.Net. (n.d.). Retrieved July 15, 2017, from