Treatment

Over the past decade, medicine has made great advances in breast cancer surgery, medical therapy, and radiation therapy. At Premier Health, we continue to improve on treatments, techniques, and results to help people with breast cancer.

Once our cancer specialists have made a diagnosis based on a thorough examination and testing, we’ll work with you to design a personalized treatment plan.

We’ll consider the type, size, and stage of your breast cancer, plus your age and overall health, to recommend one or more of the following treatment strategies:

  • Remove primary (main) cancer tumor or other tumors
  • Kill or stop the growth or spread of cancer cells
  • Prevent or delay your cancer's return
  • Manage your symptoms, such as pain or pressure in nearby tissue

How We Treat Breast Cancer

Your customized treatment plan will take advantage of our diverse cancer-fighting tools and technologies. As we treat your cancer, we’ll also be there to listen to you and help you and your family cope with the emotional and psychological impact of breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Surgery

Removing the tumor and possibly one or both breasts is often the first line of treatment. A lumpectomy is a breast-conserving surgical option. During a lumpectomy, your surgeon removes the cancer and tissue immediately surrounding it. Many patients are candidates for this operation.

A mastectomy is removal of the whole breast. If you are among a small group of women who have certain gene mutations, your surgeon may recommend removing both breasts and sometimes both ovaries to help prevent a high-risk of cancer recurrence.

Some of our surgeons offer nipple-sparing surgery during mastectomy to preserve the nipple for breast reconstruction.

For certain types of breast cancer, your doctor may recommend that you receive chemotherapy first to shrink your tumor before having surgery. This is called neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

Medical Therapies

Medical therapies often provide additional ways to eradicate cancer cells, either before or after surgery.

Chemotherapy,a general term for anticancer drugs, can be given as pills or injections to stop the growth and spread of cancer cells. We aggressively treat not only your cancer, but also the side effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea or pain.

Tumor-targeted therapyinvolves analyzing your tumor and selecting a combination of drugs to combat your specific type of breast cancer.

Hormone therapy and immunotherapy/biological therapy can be effective with certain types of breast cancer. Hormone therapy aims to prevent the growth or recurrence of breast cancer by blocking the body’s ability to produce hormones or interfering with how hormones behave in the body. Biological therapy boosts your immune system to increase your body’s natural ability to fight cancer.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses beams of intense energy to destroy cancer cells. At Premier Health, we offer three types of radiation therapy for people with breast cancer. Radiation treatments may be given before or after breast surgery. Your doctor will talk with you about which approach is best for your unique circumstances.

Radiation therapy options include:

  • 3D Conformal Radiation. This radiation therapy is called external beam radiation and often is used if your tumor has an irregular shape or is located close to healthy tissues and organs. Our newer linear accelerator allows your doctor to see your tumor in three dimensions and sculpt radiation beams to the tumor’s shape, sparing healthy tissue surrounding the tumor. You’ll receive treatments over several days.
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). Our radiation oncology experts deliver high-energy X-rays from multiple angles to your tumor. A computer performs advanced calculations so a linear accelerator machine can deliver the radiation precisely to the tumor, while limiting damage to the healthy tissue surrounding the cancer. You will receive treatments over multiple days.
  • High Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy. If you have a lumpectomy to remove only the cancerous part of your breast, your doctor may recommend radiation to kill stray cancer cells in nearby breast tissue that were not removed during surgery. HDR brachytherapy delivers high-energy gamma rays directly into your breast twice a day over five days. The radiation travels from a machine into your breast via a catheter placed in your breast either during or after breast surgery. The technique helps to spare healthy tissue by delivering radiation only to the tumor site. It also may decrease the risk of side effects.

To further protect organs, such as your heart, during 3D or IMRT treatment to the breast, Premier Health uses respiratory gated radiation therapy. This therapy tracks the tumor and halts the radiation beam momentarily if your breathing or other movements threaten to move the beam outside the targeted area. This prevents exposing nearby organs to radiation.

Breast Reconstruction

Many women who have mastectomies also choose to have breast reconstruction to restore a more natural look to their breasts by using breast implants or tissue from another part of the body. If you choose this option, you may meet with a plastic surgeon before surgery so the reconstruction process can begin at the time of your mastectomy.

Breast implants can be filled with saline, which is a sterile salt water, or with silicone gel. The saline implants have been used the longest. The gel implants look and feel more natural. This type of reconstruction surgery has a shorter recovery time and is the most common type in the U.S.

Tissue flap procedures use your own tissue to reshape the breast. Tissue is removed from another part of the body, such as the stomach, back, or thighs. Recovery is longer for this surgery, because there is more surgery in multiple locations on the body. However, they look and feel more natural than implants. This procedure can leave scars at the second surgical site.

Some women choose a combination of the two. Learn more about whether breast reconstruction is right for you.

Palliative Care

When treatments no longer are effective against the cancer, Premier Health offers palliative care to help improve quality of life and ease the symptoms of cancer.

Your Breast Cancer Care Team

You’ll benefit from our multidisciplinary care team, whose members partner with you every step of the way.

Our board-certified breast surgeons, medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists communicate regularly to discuss your diagnosis, treatment plan, and treatment progress.

Premier Health is a certified member of MD Anderson Cancer Network®, a program of MD Anderson Cancer Center,the top-ranked cancer center in the United States.

As an affiliate of MD Anderson Cancer Network®, Premier Health and our certified cancer specialists routinely discuss challenging cases with experts at MD Anderson Cancer Center. 

If you have an unusual or complex situation, your physician may consult with a cancer expert at MD Anderson to receive input on your case.

A nurse navigator will be your primary point of contact throughout diagnosis, treatment, and recovery, easing your cancer journey by guiding and linking you to additional services and education. Geneticists help define whether you are among the 12 percent of women who have a gene mutation that may influence the type of surgery you need.

We also have radiologists and technicians in our complete imaging suite and pathologists in our laboratory to assist with diagnosis and cancer staging throughout your cancer journey. As needed, we will consult wound care and hyperbaric oxygen treatment for optimal tissue healing.

Contact Us

Our cancer team is here for you. Our cancer specialists have access to nationally recognized cancer care protocols and best practices, since Premier Health is a certified member of MD Anderson Cancer Network®, a program of MD Anderson Cancer Center. Our patients benefit from advanced local care backed by the world-renowned expertise of the nation’s leading cancer center. 

Call the Premier Health cancer hotline at (844) 316-HOPE(844) 316-4673 (4673), Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., to connect with a Premier Health cancer navigator.