Breast Cancer treatments

With the rapid growth in the field of medical sciences, various treatment options are available to treat serious diseases. The options in treating breast cancer have increased and the patient can carefully choose the treatment by discussing with the cancer care team.


No matter whatever treatment you choose the main aim of all breast cancer treatments is to remove cancer from the body and to avoid cancer recurrence. Treatment for breast cancer is recommended based on the type of cancer, size, the extent of cancer and the patient's overall health conditions.

Types of Breast Cancer Treatment

Breast Conservation Surgeries/ Oncoplasty- Unlike mastectomy, the entire breast is not removed in breast conservation surgery. Breast Conservation Surgery removes only the cancer-affected area along with the healthy tissues by conserving the normal shape of the breast. Early diagnosis and multi-modality treatment reduces the side-effects and helps in preserving the contour of the breast. After the removal of malignant tissues, the breast looks distorted. With the oncoplastic breast surgery, the remaining tissues are realigned to restore the shape and symmetry of the breast.

Mastectomies(Modified radical and Radical)- Mastectomy is a procedure of removing the whole breast along with nipple and areola. The type of mastectomy is determined by the factors such as age, size of breast versus tumour,  and severity of cancer.

  • Radical Mastectomy is the complete removal of the breast along with overlying skin, muscles and the lymph nodes. Radical mastectomy is recommended when cancer has spread to the chest muscles.
  • Modified radical mastectomy is a widely used procedure. With the modified radical mastectomy, the entire breast is removed along with the underarm lymph nodes. Muscles beneath the breasts are not removed like it’s done in case of a traditional mastectomy.

Simple mastectomy- In this procedure whole breast along with skin, nipple and areola are removed but armpit lymph nodes are spared.  It is performed when cancer cells have not spread beyond the breast. Simple mastectomy is considered as an effective treatment in lowering the risk of breast cancer recurrence. It is done as prophylaxis in high-risk patients with a genetic predisposition or in low grade widespread ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS).

Skin Sparing Mastectomy: In this type, as much skin as possible is preserved and breast tissue removed through a small hole /incision to perform immediate same sitting reconstruction either using implants or patient's own tissue.

Nipple-sparing mastectomy: Breast is removed while retaining the nipple-areola complex and rest of the breast skin. Reconstruction is easier.

Mastectomy with breast reconstruction- Breast reconstruction surgery is performed to restore the shape and symmetry of the breast. During the radical or modified radical mastectomy, the entire breast is removed to eliminate cancer. This greatly affects a woman's physical appearance. With the help of breast reconstruction, one can restore breast shape and contour. Breast reconstruction and mastectomy can be conducted simultaneously.   

Other surgical procedures in breast cancer treatment: 

Chemo port Insertion for chemotherapyChemoport insertion is a safe and easy way to get access to the vein. A small device is placed beneath the skin to get vascular access for IV therapies and for injecting other medications. With chemo port insertion there is no need to insert needle stick into the vein all the time. Chemo port stays in the human body ( under the skin) for two to three years depending upon the requirement. And it can withstand around 2000 pricks by specially designed non-coring needles, so can be used over a long period without causing pain and discomfort or damage to small veins on arms.

Sentinel Lymph node biopsy/ low axillary sampling- A sentinel lymph node is the first lymph node in which cancer cells spread from the primary tumour. The biopsy is performed to identify and remove sentinel nodes. The removed sentinel nodes are sent for examination to find out the presence of cancer cells. If they show no involvement by cancer, the complete clearance of armpit nodes is not needed, saving a lot of long term discomfort to the patient and improving quality of life.

Multi-disciplinary team decision for all cancer management

A group of medical experts takes care of people with cancer. This group is called the Multi-disciplinary team. The multi-disciplinary team works together to plan cancer treatment. The team includes a surgical oncologist, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, pathologist, Psychologist and radiologist.  The team considers points such as the type and size of cancer, the severity of cancer and the patient's overall health to decide treatment options. After treatment is decided, it is explained to the patient and then executed after permission.

Authored by Dr. Shabnam Bashir

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About Dr. Shabnam Bashir


Dr. Shabnam Bashir has time and again proved her extensive and versatile expertise as a Colorectal Cancer Surgeon. This is validated by the successful cases of patients that she has dealt with.

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