Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
195 Little Albany Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08903-2681
You or someone you care about may have been recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
This video will help you understand some available treatment options.
Breast cancer is a disease where some of the cells in the breast begin to grow uncontrollably.
Treatments for breast cancer can include:
surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy.
There are several types of surgery, depending on the size and location of the tumor.
This video does not cover all available types of breast cancer surgery.
During a lumpectomy, the tumor is removed, along with some of the normal tissue around it.
In a total, or simple, mastectomy, the entire breast is removed. During a modified radical mastectomy, the entire breast is removed.
In addition, some of the lymph nodes under your arm are removed, and sometimes other tissues in your chest.
Your doctor may also want to give you radiation therapy. This therapy uses radiation to kill the cancer cells or keep them from growing.
External beam radiation uses a machine outside the body that aims radiation at the cancer.
Internal radiation therapy, also known as brachytherapy, uses a substance that gives off radiation through different types of delivery devices.
The substance is put inside your breast where the cancer has been removed.
Chemotherapy uses certain drugs to kill cancer.
These drugs may treat cancer cells throughout the whole body, or can be given to treat cancer cells in one area.
Another treatment option is hormone therapy. Hormones are substances found naturally in your body.
Estrogen is one of these hormones. Your body uses estrogen mainly for the growth and development of your uterus, breast, and ovaries.
However, estrogen can also promote the growth of certain hormone receptor positive cancer cells.
One type of hormone therapy blocks estrogen from binding to breast cancer cells so it cannot cause cancer cells to grow and divide.
Targeted therapy is a treatment option for cancers that have a specific kind of marker on the cancer cells.
One therapy targets cells with markers called HER2.
HER2 is a naturally occurring protein on your cells that normally promotes healthy growth in your cells.
Some cancer cells have too much of this protein.
This causes the cancer cells to grow and spread more aggressively than normal cells.
Targeted therapy drugs are designed to only attach to the HER2 proteins on cancer cells.
As a result, the cancer cells stop growing, and may die.
Immuno-oncology, also known as immunotherapy, helps your immune system fight cancer.
Cancer can sometimes hide from the immune cells that attack them.
For example, both cancer and immune cells may have proteins, called checkpoint proteins.
When they attach, attack from other immune cells is stopped.
Scientists are looking at one type of immunotherapy drug that blocks the checkpoint proteins from attaching to each other.
As a result, the immune cell can attack and destroy the cancer cell.
Your doctor may prescribe a combination of the treatments we’ve discussed, or different treatment options than those mentioned here.
If you have questions about breast cancer or any medications you have been prescribed, talk to your doctor.
It is important to take your medications as directed, and report any side effects you have.