Treatment Options For Breast Cancer

Posted on: 20 October 2022

When you visit your doctor with the signs of breast cancer, such as breast pain, swelling, redness or discharge from the nipple, you will understandably feel apprehensive about the next steps. A breast cancer diagnosis can leave you feeling shocked and worried, but there are several treatment options currently available and the prognosis is good when this type of cancer is diagnosed early. Your doctor will recommend a treatment approach based on your specific diagnostic results and whether cancerous cells have spread beyond your breast tissue. Here's an overview of the women's healthcare treatment options that are commonly recommended for breast cancer.


Surgery is the main treatment approach for breast cancer and can be used as a standalone treatment or in conjunction with another form of treatment. The two main types of surgery for breast cancer are lumpectomy and mastectomy. A lumpectomy aims to conserve the affected breast by removing only the cancerous tissue. Mastectomy surgery involves having all of the breast tissue of the affected breast removed. The precise location of the cancerous tissue, the size of the lump and whether there's more than one area of the breast that's affected will all be taken into consideration by your doctor when they recommend a type of surgery.


Radiotherapy is often used after surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells in the breast tissue or surrounding tissue, such as the lymph nodes in your underarms. The cells are destroyed using high-energy X-rays, and a course of treatment over several weeks is the norm. Radiotherapy can be administered on an outpatient basis, but some patients will experience side effects that will require them to rest after treatment, such as severe tiredness, localised pain and swelling.


Chemotherapy can be used before surgery to shrink large lumps of cancerous tissue or after surgery to reduce the risk of cancerous cells spreading to other areas of your body. Chemotherapy drugs inhibit the growth of cancer cells and can be administered intravenously or orally. Like radiotherapy, chemotherapy is administered as a course of treatment that can last several weeks. Side effects can include nausea, anaemia and an increased risk of developing an infection due to a drop in white blood cells.

Hormone Therapy

The hormone oestrogen can make some types of breast cancer cells multiply. Your doctor may recommend hormone therapy to lower your oestrogen levels and block cancer cells from using oestrogen as fuel. Hormone therapy can be used before surgery, particularly if there is an unavoidable delay in having surgery, or after surgery as a way of reducing the risk of breast cancer returning. Common side effects associated with hormone therapy include tiredness, nausea, headaches, hot flushes and mood changes.

When discussing treatment options with your doctor, don't be afraid to ask questions. It's important that you understand why a specific treatment approach has been recommended and what your prognosis is before deciding on a course of treatment.