Standard Treatments for Early Stage Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer

In case of diagnosis of breast cancer, your health team will discuss with you various treatment options. It would help if you took your time deciding on each option, considering the advantages and disadvantages of each treatment optionally. Early-stage diagnosis of breast cancer helps the doctor and patient decide on the best treatment. Early stage breast cancer means that the tumor hasn’t spread beyond the breast. Breast cancer has stages from 0 through 4. Each has additional letters showing whether it’s a lower or higher status within the stage. In this article, we are going to discuss the standard treatment options available for early stage breast cancer.


The surgery will be the first line of treatment if the breast cancer is at an early stage. There are two major surgical procedures for the treatment of cancer of the breast: a lumpectomy and mastectomy.

  • Lumpectomy, or breast-conserving surgery, is a surgical procedure whereby the tumour is removed with a small area of healthy tissue surrounding it. This may be suitable in those patients with small tumours and if they are willing to preserve the breasts. They generally require post-operative radiation treatment, which kills cancer cells that may be remaining.

Mastectomy is a surgical procedure where the entire breast is removed. Mastectomy types range from total or simple to modified radical to skin-sparing mastectomy. The type of mastectomy performed will depend on factors such as the size and location of the tumour and personal preference.

 Radiation Therapy

Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to kill any cancer cells left behind in the breast after surgery; it can be given both internally and externally. External beam radiation therapy delivers radiation from a machine outside the body. Internal radiation therapy, called brachytherapy, places radioactive material inside the body close to areas with cancerous cells. Doctors often combine radiation therapy with a lumpectomy, hoping to minimize the risk that cancer might grow back.


Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells everywhere in the body. Patients take chemotherapy orally or, more commonly, as an intravenous infusion. Doctors recommend chemotherapy for patients at high risk of cancer spreading beyond the breast, including those with larger tumours or aggressive cancer characteristics. Chemotherapy’s side effects may include hair loss, nausea, fatigue, and an increased risk of hospital-acquired infections.

Hormone Treatment

Hormone therapy manages hormone receptor-positive breast cancers, which grow due to hormones like estrogen or progesterone. It works by either blocking these hormones or reducing their levels in the body. Various medications, such as tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors, are involved in hormone therapy. The specific characteristics of the cancer determine the extent of hormone therapy needed.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy works on cancerous cells rather than healthy cells, reducing damage to normal tissue. These therapies interfere with specific molecules involved in cancer growth and spread. Often combined with other treatments, targeted therapy drugs are especially useful for breast cancers that overexpress certain proteins.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials test new treatments or combinations of treatments for breast cancer. Participating in a clinical trial opens the gateway to the most modern and advanced treatment options, offering less widely available treatments. Discuss participation in these clinical studies with your healthcare team to weigh the benefits against the risks.

 Complementary and Integrative Therapies

Some women may also try complementary and integrative therapies alongside standard medical treatment to better manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. These may include acupuncture, massage therapy, yoga, meditation, and dietary supplements. However, freely discuss these complementary therapies with your healthcare team to ensure they do not interfere with the effectiveness of conventional treatments.

Making Informed Decisions

During the treatment of the early stages of breast cancer, women should have full and frank discussions with their health team. These include precise characteristics of the tumour, overall health, and possible side effects. If needed, women can seek a second opinion or gather information to enable themselves to make an informed decision on the best course of treatment.

The Bottom Line

Early stage breast cancer offers women many treatment options. Every case is unique, and there may be an optimal strategy most appropriate for each woman. Breast oncoplasty is just one developing strategy that combines surgical oncology with reconstructive plastic surgery in the removal of cancerous tissue while preserving the typical shape of the breast. This new technique is an exciting innovation in the range of treatments available to women, giving them a chance at cancer treatment where after-effects on body image will be minimal. Medical advancement is a continuous process; hence, patients should be up-to-date on the changing trends in breast cancer treatment and discuss it openly with their health team to make the best treatment decisions.

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