How Is Breast Cancer Cured?

Medically Reviewed on 6/3/2022
How Is Breast Cancer Cured?
Alternative treatments cannot cure breast cancer. However, alternative medicines can be beneficial to manage side effects.

The treatment options for breast cancer are determined by the:

  • Location of cancer
  • Tumor size
  • Stage and grade of cancer
  • Spread to other parts of the body
  • Cancer cells are sensitive to hormones
  • The overall health of the patient

Considering these factors, your physician would select the most appropriate treatment to treat your breast cancer. Surgery is the main treatment option for treating stage I breast cancer.

Treatments can be categorized into two types:

  1. Local treatments
  2. Systemic treatments

Local treatments focus on destroying or removing cells in a specific area, especially in the breast.

6 local treatments used to treat breast cancers

The doctors may choose a single therapy or combine two or more therapy for best results. Women should always follow up with their doctors to screen for recurrence of cancer.

  1. Surgery:
    • Breast-conserving surgery, lumpectomy, or partial mastectomy: Lumpectomy or partial mastectomy is a procedure where the physician removes the malignant tumor and some surrounding healthy tissue. The extent of tumor removal depends on the size and location of the tumor.
    • Surgery to remove lymph nodes: To identify if the tumor has spread to the surrounding lymph nodes, located under the arm, the physician may perform one of the following two surgeries:
      • Sentinel lymph node biopsy: The doctor removes a few lymph nodes where cancer might have spread.
      • Axillary lymph node dissection: The doctor removes more nodes compared to sentinel lymph node biopsy but usually less than 20 nodes.
    • Mastectomy: This procedure involves the removal of the entire breast combined with all the breast tissue and some healthy tissues. Different types of mastectomies are:
      • Total mastectomy: Except for the lymph nodes present under the arm, the physician removes the entire breast.
      • Modified radical mastectomy: The physician removes the entire breast along with lymph nodes under the arm.
      • Radical mastectomy: It involves the removal of the entire breast and lymph nodes under the arm and up to the collarbone, as well as the chest wall muscles under the breast.
      • Partial mastectomy: This procedure involves the removal of cancerous breast tissue and some surrounding healthy tissue.
  2. Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy utilizes high-energy rays to destroy cancerous cells. Depending on the type of radiation given, there are two types of radiation therapy.
    • External beam radiation: The radiation comes from a machine kept outside the body.
    • Internal radiation (brachytherapy): In this type, the doctor puts radioactive material inside the body.
  3. Chemotherapy: It is the preferred treatment option for advanced breast cancer. Chemotherapy can be performed before or after the surgery.
  4. Targeted cancer therapy: Targeted therapy aims to specifically target the cancer cells while causing a minimal effect on the healthy cells. Some drugs commonly used for targeted cancer therapy include:
    • Verzenio (abemaciclib)
    • Afinitor (everolimus)
    • Tykerb (lapatinib)
    • Nerlynx (neratinib)
    • Lynparza (olaparib)
    • Ibrance (albociclib)
    • Perjeta (pertuzumab)
    • Kisquali (ribociclib)
    • Talzenna (talazoparib)
    • Herceptin (trastuzumab)
    • Kadcyla (trastuzumab emtansine)
  5. Hormone therapy: Hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, may help certain cancer cells to grow. Hormone therapy blocks the hormones from attaching to the cancer cells, resulting in its destruction. Some of the drugs used for hormone therapy include:
  6. Immunotherapy: These drugs boost the immune system to fight against cancer cells. Atezolizumab is commonly used for immunotherapy.


A lump in the breast is almost always cancer. See Answer

How can you prevent breast cancer?

The exact cause of breast cancer is not known. Hence, there are no definitive ways to prevent it. Certain lifestyle modifications, however, may help improve your overall health and lower the risk of cancer development.

  • Maintain your weight: Maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise to lower breast cancer risk.
  • Staying physically active: Staying active or exercising is crucial to lowering the chances of developing breast cancer. Always aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercises or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercises each week. Spread out the exercises during the week.
  • Breastfeed: Breastfeed for as long as you can to avoid the odds of getting breast cancer.
  • Limit hormone therapy after menopause: It is better to opt for nonhormonal options to treat menopausal symptoms.
  • Get screened to identify any abnormalities: Screening recommendations differ by age and risk and other factors. Some of the most recent include:
    • The screening recommendation by US Preventative Services Task Force for different age groups are:
      • 40 to 49 years: Get a mammogram every two years if you and your doctor think you need it.
      • 50 to 74 years: Get a mammogram every two years.
      • 75 years and older: Ask your doctor if you should continue getting mammograms.
    • The screening recommendation by the American Cancer Society for different age groups are:
      • 40 to 44 years: Get an annual mammogram if you and your doctor think you need it.
      • 45 to 54 years: Get an annual mammogram.
      • 55 to 74 years: Get a mammogram every one or two years.
      • 75 years and older: Get a mammogram every year as long as you are in good health and expected to live 10 years or more.
  • Limit or skip alcohol: Avoid alcohol or limit alcoholic drinks to one drink per day.
Table. Estimation of how much one drink equals according to types
Types of drinks Volume in ounces
Beer 12
Wine 5
Hard liquor 1.5

Are there alternative treatments for breast cancer?

Alternative treatments cannot cure breast cancer. However, alternative medicines can be beneficial to manage side effects. Your physician might prescribe medicines or alternative strategies, such as relaxation techniques, to combat fatigue that may persist years after the treatment.

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Medically Reviewed on 6/3/2022
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Mayo Clinic. Breast cancer.

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