If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, there are several treatment options for you to consider. You might need one or a combination of different treatments, which your consultant breast surgeon and breast care nurse will talk you through.
Your treatment options
As everyone’s different, your consultant breast surgeon and oncologist will take a number of things about you into account when deciding which treatment would suit you best. They’ll consider factors like:
- the type of breast cancer you have
- the size of your tumour
- what stage and grade of your breast cancer and cancer cells
- whether you’ve gone through the menopause
- your overall health.
Breast cancer surgery
For most people, surgery is the first step in their breast cancer treatment.
There are different types of surgery for breast cancer. Your consultant breast surgeon will talk to you about your options and help you to decide on the right treatment for you. You won’t be hurried to make a decision, so you can reflect on your choices and talk to your friends and family too. Your breast care nurse will support you and help you to make decisions.
Patients can either have a lump removed or the whole breast. The decision depends on the size, position and number of tumours as well as your wishes.
Breast reconstruction replaces tissue that is removed during your breast cancer surgery to help recover some of your breast’s shape, and may be performed directly after a partial breast removal (mastectomy) or some time later.
Breasts are carefully rebuilt using a breast implant or the person’s own tissue, and some surgeons may use a combination of both techniques. Depending upon the case, some reconstruction may require more than one operation.
Find out more about our breast reconstruction treatments
If a mastectomy (removal of the whole breast) is necessary, reconstruction is usually possible and this will be discussed with you by your surgeon.
After surgery you’re likely to be offered other treatments to help stop the cancer from coming back. The treatment you have next depends on the type of breast cancer that you have.
Chemotherapy and hormone therapy
You might need to have chemotherapy or hormone therapy before or after your surgery and radiotherapy. Chemotherapy and hormone therapy can help to make the cancer easier to remove by making it smaller in your breast.
Radiotherapy is a common cancer treatment that uses radiation to get rid of any cancer cells left behind after you’ve had surgery. Radiotherapy is usually split into a course of treatments, and is usually given daily (Monday-Friday) for between 3.5 and 5 weeks.
Intra-operative radiation therapy (IORT)
IORT is a new single dose form of therapy that’s suitable for certain breast cancers at early stage 1 or 2. IORT has a number of benefits, including reduced radiation exposure to healthy tissue and organs. IORT also eliminates the need for external beam radiation treatments in certain selected patient groups and means that they can return to their normal life and daily routines more quickly because the surgery and radiation are administered at the same time. IORT is available at BMI Cancer Centres.
Targeted therapy helps to block the growth and spread of your breast cancer by interrupting with the cells that cause the cancer to grow. The most common type of targeted therapy is an antibody called trastuzumab.
Follow up treatment
After your breast cancer treatment, you’ll have regular check-ups and annual mammograms. At first, your appointments will probably be every few months but the intervals will become longer as time passes and you will be followed up according to your individual needs. If you notice any symptoms between your appointments, you can always contact your BMI Healthcare consultant or breast care nurse.
Paying for your treatment
You have two options to pay for your treatment – your costs may be covered by your private medical insurance, or you can pay for yourself. Check with your private medical insurer to see if your diagnostic costs are covered under your medical insurance policy. If you are paying for your own treatment the cost of the procedure will be explained and confirmed in writing when you book the operation.
Want to know more?
If you’d like to read more about breast cancer, treatment or living with breast cancer, please visit macmillan.org.uk or breastcancercare.org.uk.