The diagnosis breast cancer can raise many questions: What will happen to me? What can I do myself? What are the treatment options? And most of all: What treatment is best for me? For example, should I have a breast sparing or saving surgery or mastectomy? Should I have radiotherapy or chemotherapy after the surgery? Is adjuvant hormone therapy useful to prevent that my cancer returns? What are the risks of the different treatments? And what are the adverse effects?
Treatment options for breast cancer
Breast cancer can be treated in many ways. Primarily, it can be removed by surgery. Depending on the circumstances, some part of the breast or the whole breast can be removed. The surgery is often combined with radiation therapy to destroy possibly remaining cancer cells. Sometimes, chemotherapy is given, so that cancer cells elsewhere in the body can be killed as well. In some cases, it is possible to combat the cancer by using antibodies. These antibodies bind to the tumour cells, so that the body can recognize and destroy the tumour cells more easily.
The 'best' treatment
Not every treatment is appropriate or necessary for each patient. This depends on both the characteristics of the tumour and the wishes of the patient. There are guidelines for the treatment of breast cancer, but these leave room for your own preferences. Some persons find it safer to have their whole breast removed, while others prefer to keep some part of their breast. Thus, whether or not to choose for a certain breast cancer treatment option depends on your personal attitude and feelings too. Also after the treatment for cancer, choices have to be made. For instance about whether you want to have a breast reconstruction.
Breast cancer decision aids
The following decision aids can give you insight in the different breast cancer treatment options and can assist you in choosing the best treatment. Please bear in mind that these decision aids can never replace the conversation with your doctor. You can discuss the information from the decision aid with your doctor and choose the best treatment together.
The treatments mentioned above can be given palliatively as well, which means that the cancer can no longer be cured. Instead, the therapy will focus on improving the quality of life. An example of such a treatment is second-line palliative chemotherapy.