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Cancer care: Breast cancer

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Breast cancer treatments

Your breast cancer treatment options

Our patients work with their care team to develop a breast cancer treatment plan. The plan addresses the unique medical concerns, treatment options and preferences of each patient.

Facing a breast cancer diagnosis is difficult. That is why we encourage women to ask many questions – and even get second opinions – about their breast care.

Breast cancer treatments

These options may be a part of your breast cancer treatment plan.

Surgery
Chemotherapy
Radiation therapy
Hormone therapy

Source: American Cancer Society, Breast cancer hormone therapy; Virginia Piper Cancer Institute
Reviewed by: Timothy Sielaff, MD, PhD, FACS, president, Virginia Piper Cancer Institute; Carol Bergen, RN, manager, Piper Breast Center; Deborah Day, MD, medical director, Piper Breast Center; Tamera Lillemoe, MD, pathologist
First Published: 08/25/2009
Last Reviewed: 08/25/2009

Breast cancer stages

Your doctors will use a variety of information like X-rays and biopsy results to determine the stage of your cancer.

When diagnosed with breast cancer, you will be told what stage the cancer is at. This can help you and your care team determine your goals, treatment options and outlook.

Classification

Goal

Treatment options

Stage 0 or DCIS (ductal carinoma in situ) is the earliest, most treatable stage of breast cancer.

Cure the cancer and keep it from coming back.

  • lumpectomy or mastectomy
  • radiation therapy

Stage I is when the breast cancer tumor is 2 centimeters wide or less. It has not spread to other areas of the body.

Cure the cancer and keep it from coming back..

  • lumpectomy or mastectomy
  • radiation therapy
  • sentinel lymph node biopsy
  • chemotherapy
  • hormone therapy

Stage II is when the breast cancer tumor is more than 2 centimeters wide. It has spread to nearby lymph nodes.

Treat the cancer to keep it from coming back.

  • lumpectomy or mastectomy
  • radiation therapy
  • sentinel lymph node biopsy
  • chemotherapy
  • hormone therapy

Stage III is when the breast cancer tumor is 5 centimeters wide or larger. It may have spread to nearby lymph nodes or grown into the chest wall or skin. Sometimes, the tumor cannot be found, but cancer is found in nearby lymph nodes or tissue.

Treat the cancer and keep it from coming back.

  • lumpectomy or mastectomy
  • sentinel lymph node biopsy
  • chemotherapy
  • hormone therapy

Stage IV is the most advanced stage of breast cancer. It is metastatic breast cancer; the cancer has spread to other organs or lymph nodes far from the breast.

Alleviate symptoms and help lengthen life.

  • lumpectomy or mastectomy
  • sentinel lymph node biopsy
  • chemotherapy
  • hormone therapy
What does 'five-year relative survival rate' mean?
What does 'metastatic breast cancer' mean?

Source: American Cancer Society, How is breast cancer staged?, What is metastatic cancer?; National Cancer Institute
Reviewed by: Timothy Sielaff, MD, PhD, FACS, president, Virginia Piper Cancer Institute; Carol Bergen, RN, manager, Piper Breast Center; Deborah Day, MD, medical director, Piper Breast Center; Tamera Lillemoe, MD, pathologist
First Published: 08/25/2009
Last Reviewed: 08/25/2009

Lymphedema: A common side effect of breast cancer treatments

A lymphedema therapist wraps a woman's arm with bandages. Compression therapy is a common treatment for lyphedema.

Lymphedema can develop right away after breast cancer surgery or many years later. It causes a constant ache due to swelling in the arms and legs.

What is lymphedema?
What symptoms should I watch for?
How is lymphedema treated?

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, How To Manage Lymphedema, pt-ahc-14216 (4/07)
Reviewed by: Nancy Hutchison, MD, medical director for cancer rehabilitation and lymphedema at Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute and Virginia Piper Cancer Institute; Timothy Sielaff, MD, PhD, FACS, president, Virginia Piper Cancer Institute; Carol Bergen, RN, manager, Piper Breast Center; Deborah Day, MD, medical director, Piper Breast Center; Tamera Lillemoe, MD, pathologist
First Published: 08/25/2009
Last Reviewed: 11/05/2009