After a lumpectomy, you will need radiation therapy on remaining breast tissue. Chemotherapy after a lumpectomy may be needed in the following cases:
- Tumor is larger than ¼ inch or 0.5 cm
- Tumor has spread to the lymph nodes
- There is a chance of recurrence
- Tumors that are small and:
- Have receptors for the hormones estrogen and progesterone
- Produce too much of the growth-promoting protein HER2
- Have a high score on gene panels such as Oncotype DX, EndoPredict, and MammaPrint
- Younger people (breast cancer tends to be more aggressive in young people)
Can a lumpectomy reveal whether breast cancer has spread?
After the breast tumor has been removed during a lumpectomy, your surgeon may also check your lymph nodes to see if cancer has spread beyond the breast.
They may perform a biopsy by removing a lymph node through a separate, small incision in the armpit area. A pathologist then checks the biopsy sample for signs of spread of cancer in the lymph nodes. This helps your cancer treatment team determine which treatments are most likely to be effective for your case.
What is the role of chemotherapy in breast cancer?
Chemotherapy is typically used to shrink breast cancer tumors before surgical removal. This is especially necessary when:
- The tumor is so large that it cannot be removed via surgery. Once the tumor regresses with chemotherapy, it becomes easier for doctors to remove it without risking spread to adjacent organs.
- Doctors want to check how well a particular medication works on your breast cancer. This helps them decide whether to continue the same drug after surgery or switch to another medication if the previous one does not work.
Breast cancer varies from person to person, and the type of medications your oncology team prescribes will depend on the goals of treatment and the features of your particular cancer.
How is chemotherapy administered in breast cancer?
Chemotherapy involves the use of anticancer medications that kill cancer cells in the body:
- Can be given in the form of intravenous (IV) therapy or as oral pills
- Given in cycles of 2-3 weeks for a period of 3-6 months.
- Total duration and type of medications depend on how well you tolerate the therapy.
- A gap is given in between 2 cycles to allow you time to recover from the treatment.
Chemotherapy for breast cancer can be given in the form of neoadjuvant therapy or adjuvant therapy:
- Neoadjuvant therapy: Involves medications given to reduce tumor size before removal of breast cancer tissue through surgery. This typically includes chemotherapy.
- Adjuvant therapy: May be either medications or radiation therapy given after surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells. The medications may be the ones used in chemotherapy and targeted therapy.
Treatment of breast cancer depends on your overall health, age, and specific needs.
Tips to maintain your health during breast cancer chemotherapy
Take care of body before and during treatment
Taking care of your body before and during chemotherapy sessions can help lessen side effects or at least allow you to tolerate them better:
- Get plenty of rest.
- Stay physically active.
- Eat a nutritious, balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts.
- Maintain good hygiene such as washing or sanitizing your hands frequently and staying up to date on your vaccinations.
- Visit the dentist to maintain teeth and gum health.
- Get blood tests such as liver function tests, kidney function tests, and heart function tests. This can let your doctor know if a chemotherapy drug is causing any problems so that the medication can be changed.
- Managing stress.
Plan in advance for side effects
Chemotherapy medications come with their own set of side effects. Ask your doctor about what to expect so that you can plan ahead. For example, if one of the side effects of chemotherapy is infertility, you may decide to preserve your sperm or eggs before starting the treatment.
You may need to take time off work or arrange for someone to help with your responsibilities at home, as you do not know how severely the chemotherapy will affect you.
Inform your doctor about current drugs or supplements
Drugs or supplements can interact with the chemotherapy medications and affect the way they work in your body. Let your doctor know about any medications you are currently taking before starting treatment.
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Treatment of Breast Cancer Stages I-III: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/treatment/treatment-of-breast-cancer-by-stage/treatment-of-breast-cancer-stages-i-iii.html
Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/treatment/chemotherapy-for-breast-cancer.html
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At What Stage of Cancer is Chemotherapy Used?The decision to use chemotherapy may vary depending on the aggressiveness, stage and type of cancer. Usually, chemotherapy may be used for all stages in most cancer types. Chemotherapy is a type of medicine or combination of medications that is used to treat or kill cancer cells.
Breast cancer is an invasive tumor that develops in the mammary gland. Breast cancer is detected via mammograms, breast self-examination (BSE), biopsy, and specialized testing on breast cancer tissue. Treatment of breast cancer may involve surgery, radiation, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy. Breast cancer risk may be lowered by managing controllable risk factors.
What you should know about breast cancer
- Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women.
- One in every eight women in the United States develops breast cancer.
- There are many types of breast cancer that differ in their capability of spreading (metastasize) to other body tissues.
- The causes of breast cancer are unknown, although medical professionals have identified a number of risk factors.
- There are 11 common types of breast cancer and 4 uncommon types of breast cancer.
- Breast cancer early signs and symptoms include
- a lump in the breast or armpit,
- bloody nipple discharge,
- inverted nipple,
- orange-peel texture or dimpling of the breast's skin (peau d'orange),
- breast pain or sore nipple,
- swollen lymph nodes in the neck or armpit, and
- a change in the size or shape of the breast or nipple.
- Breast cancer can also be symptom free, which makes following national screening recommendations an important practice.
- Breast cancer is diagnosed during a physical exam, by a self-exam of the breasts, mammography, ultrasound testing, and biopsy.
- Treatment of breast cancer depends on the type of cancer and its stage (0-IV) and may involve surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy.
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How Long Is the Recovery From a Lumpectomy?Recovery after a lumpectomy may vary from person to person. It depends on several factors, such as the size of the lump to be removed, type of anesthesia, general health of the patient, and age of the patient. Generally, the healing time varies from a few days to a week.
Is a Lumpectomy Painful?Lumpectomy is performed under anesthesia; hence, the procedure itself is not painful. After the surgery and recovery from anesthesia, patients may experience pain, which usually resolves in a few days and can be minimized with painkillers prescribed by the doctor.
Is Lumpectomy a Major Surgery?Lumpectomy is a surgical procedure to remove a mass (cancerous or non-cancerous) from the breasts. In a lumpectomy, only the affected portion of the breast is removed, without removing the surrounding healthy breast tissue. Lumpectomy is also called breast-conserving surgery.
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Breast Cancer Treatment by Stage
Treatment of breast cancer depends upon the stage of the cancer at the time of diagnosis. Some of the various treatments include:
- hormone therapy,
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