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I've been recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and I'm overwhelmed by the treatment options available. Can you explain the different treatment approaches and their potential side effects?
- Hillary Lin(Physician)•
I'm sorry to hear about your diagnosis. It is a major change and is absolutely overwhelming for most people.
Breast cancer treatment typically involves a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and hormone therapy. The treatment plan is usually individualized based on the type and stage of breast cancer, as well as other individual factors such as age, overall health, and personal preferences. Surgery is the most common treatment for breast cancer. It involves removing the cancerous tissue from the breast, and in some cases, removing the entire breast. There are different types of surgery, including breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy), mastectomy, and lymph node dissection. The potential side effects of surgery include pain, swelling, infection, and possible disfigurement or decreased mobility in the affected area. Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to destroy cancer cells and prevent their growth. The treatment is usually delivered after surgery to eliminate any remaining cancer cells in the breast and reduce the risk of recurrence.
The potential side effects of radiation therapy include fatigue, skin changes, and breast or pain. Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment that uses powerful drugs to destroy cancer cells throughout the body. The treatment is often used after surgery to eliminate any remaining cancer cells and reduce the risk of recurrence. The potential side effects of chemotherapy include nausea, vomiting, hair loss, fatigue, and increased risk of infection. Targeted therapy is a newer type of treatment that targets specific proteins or genes in cancer cells. It is often used in combination with chemotherapy and is designed to block the growth and spread of cancer cells. The potential side effects of targeted therapy include skin rash, diarrhea, and increased risk of infection. Hormone therapy is used for breast cancers that are sensitive to hormones such as estrogen or progesterone. It works by blocking the hormones that the cancer cells need to grow. The potential side effects of hormone therapy include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and increased risk of blood clots and stroke.
It's important to discuss the different treatment options with your healthcare team. Once you get a clear treatment plan, we can help explain better what specific timeline and side effects to expect. There are also ways to help manage common side effects of treatment, ranging from control of nausea and pain to helping with potential hair loss.
Wishing you the best through this tough time and hope that this is helpful.