Learning you have breast cancer can bring confusion, anger, frustration, and most often, fear. However, there are a variety of treatment options available, as well as support groups to help you or a loved one get through a cancer diagnosis.
There are a variety of treatment options for cancer patients; however, you should consult with your doctor before you decide on any treatment. They can provide the best possible option for you, and help you decide on surgery, chemotherapy, or holistic treatment.
Cancer patients are encouraged to seek a second opinion after learning of their diagnosis, from a breast specialist or cancer care center. Talking with other women who have battled the disease can also help in the decision process as well. However, in whatever treatment option you or a loved one decide, support and love is the key to healing.
From the Mayo Clinic
Breast Cancer Surgery
The two most common types of breast cancer surgery are:
Lumpectomy - During lumpectomy, the surgeon removes the tumor and a small margin of surrounding healthy tissue. Lumpectomy is typically reserved for smaller tumors that are easily separated from the surrounding tissue.
Mastectomy - Mastectomy is surgery to remove all of your breast tissue. Mastectomy can be simple, meaning the surgeon removes all of the breast tissue — the lobules, ducts, fatty tissue and skin, including the nipple and areola. Or mastectomy can be radical; meaning the underlying muscle of the chest wall is removed along with surrounding lymph nodes in the armpit.
Surgeons can also perform a sentinel node biopsy, which is the removal of ONE lymph node; or, an axillary lymph node dissection, which is the removal of several lymph nodes. (CLICK HERE to learn more about these surgery options.)
Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy: External radiation and Internal radiation therapy. CLICK HERE to learn more about both.
One of the more common cancer treatments, chemotherapy uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells. The drugs attack the cancer cells and prevent them from dividing.
There are a number of ways chemotherapy is used as a cancer treatment. It can be taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle. Through this route, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body. When chemotherapy is placed directly into the spinal column, an organ, or a body cavity such as the abdomen, the drugs mainly affect cancer cells in those areas.
Learn more about this option HERE.
Alternative medicines are currently used to help curb the side effects of cancer treatments like chemotherapy, surgery and radiation treatments. They shouldn’t be used as a means to treat breast cancer, but can be combined with the treatment option recommended by your doctor.
The Mayo Clinic highlights the following alternative treatments:
Exercise - If your doctor approves, try walking, swimming, yoga or Tai Chi a few times a week. You can always do more if you feel up to it, but start out slow and work your way towards a goal.
De-Stress - Stress is a common symptom for any cancer patient. However, you can take control and learn various stress reduction techniques to cope. Try muscle relaxation, visualization and spending time with friends and family.
Relaxation - Balance daily activity with an equal amount of relaxation. Listen to your favorite music, write in a journal, or take a warm bath, with invigorating bath salts.
Other treatment options include:
This specific cancer treatment removes hormones or blocks their action and prevents cancer cells from growing.
Targeted therapy uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells without harming normal cells.
Clinical trials are changing the way doctors are treating cancer in patients. They show promise and are offering hope to many participants, nationwide.
Finding support and a commonality is a great way to begin and continue the healing process. Surround yourself with friends and family, and find a local support group so you don’t have to fight the battle alone.
There are several organizations that can help connect you with other breast cancer patients. To find out more, check out:
The NCI's Cancer Information Service is a national information and education network. It is a free public service of the NCI. Visit them online, or call 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) for more information.
Find your local chapter and connect with patients just like you, in your area!
One of the leading organizations in cancer research, find your local chapter and get involved. Learn more about research in your area, and connect with women who are battling breast cancer.
The Breast Cancer Network of Strength was created to provide immediate emotional relief to anyone affected by breast cancer. Whether you are a patient or know someone who has been diagnosed, they ensure that you don't have to fight the battle alone.
OncoCHAT is and online peer support source for cancer survivors, families and friends. Connect with them today!