It Isn’t Over Until It’s Over – What treatment options are available?

Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by JayHawkPharmacyBlogger

In honor of October being National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we at Jayhawk Pharmacy are dedicating our blog to a four-part series on breast cancer awareness.  As it was discussed in part-three, early detection is extremely important to be successful in the fight against breast cancer.  While staging does not always tell the complete story of the prognosis, it can significantly change the treatment options available.  The fourth, and final, part of our four-part series will be covering some of the more popular treatment options.

Your treatment options can vary dramatically pending on the stage and type of cancer that you have.  Most of the treatment options fall under the categories of local or systemic treatment.  Individuals are given a treatment plan that consists of a combination of various treatments with the aim of delivering the most impactful results. 

Local Breast Cancer Treatment
Local breast cancer treatment options, as the name indicates, are options that only treat specific parts of the body.  These treatments usually target the affected areas of the body which, in this case, are the breasts.  The two main types of local treatments for breast cancer are surgery and radiation therapy.

The surgical procedures most commonly associated with breast cancer cases are lumpectomies or a mastectomies.  According to the Susan G Komen website, a lumpectomy is, “the surgical removal of only the cancerous area of the breast and some surrounding normal tissue. Usually, underarm lymph nodes are also removed.”  They also go on to refer to the lumpectomy as the “breast conserving surgery” as it tends to be less invasive because it removes the least amount of breast tissue necessary.  A mastectomy, on the other hand, is the surgical removal of the entire breast, but usually involves removing some underarm lymph nodes as well. 

Radiation therapy is the other type of local treatment available and is frequently used in conjunction with a surgery option.  According to the Komen website, “Radiation therapy uses high energy x-rays to kill cancer cells in the targeted tissue.”

Systematic Breast Cancer Treatment
Systematic breast cancer treatment options, typically reserved for the latter stages of breast cancer, are used in cases where there is a possibility that the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.  Two of the main options are chemotherapy and hormone therapy.   

Chemotherapy uses drugs, administered intravenously, to kill cancer cells and is typically given once or twice per month for three-to-six months.  “Hormone therapy, typically used post-surgery, uses drugs to prevent the body’s hormones from promoting the growth of cancer cells that may be remaining post-operation”, according to the Komen website.  

We, at Jayhawk Pharmacy, fully support breast cancer awareness and the fight against breast cancer.  We hope you’ve found our series this month informative and helpful.  Our thoughts go out to all those who have been, or are currently being, affected by breast cancer.

Source: Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Treatment Overview: http://ww5.komen.org/uploadedFiles/Content_Binaries/806-386.pdf

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