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Breast Cancer Treatment

Breast Cancer Treatment

Dr. Larissa Korde discusses the options for treating breast cancer, including surgery, radiation, and systemic therapy. Surgically removing the tumor is one of the most important aspects of treating breast cancer and is almost always recommended. Radiation is used to target and kill any cancer cells that may remain after surgery. Radiation is always recommended after a lumpectomy, but often not recommended after a mastectomy. Following surgery, the local lymph nodes are evaluated--a procedure that's known as a sentinel lymph node biopsy--to see if the cancer has the potential to spread. Systemic therapies include chemotherapy, hormonal, and targeted therapies. Chemotherapy uses medicines to kill rapidly divining cells, but has toxicity and negative side effects. Hormonal therapies use pills to reduce hormone levels or block receptors, reducing the risk of recurrence by up to 50%. Targeted therapies are drugs specifically targeted to one abnormality, the most common of which is Herceptin.

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Breast Cancer Biology, Stages, and Types

Dr. Larissa Korde provides an overview of breast cancer biology, stages, and types. Breast cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in breast. The stages of development are hyperplasia, atypical hyperplasia, non-invasive cancer or carcinoma in situ, and finally invasive cancer. Dr. Korde explains the stages of breast cancer, ranging from Stage 0, a non-invasive cancer, to Stage 4, a cancer that has spread to other organs. Other factors that an oncologist will look at are the receptors that the cancer expresses. Two hormone receptors are estrogen and progesterone, which is treated with hormone therapy. Another receptor is HER2, which treated with HER2 targeted therapy. Triple Negative is a subtype of breast cancer that does not express any of the latter three receptors and is generally treated with chemotherapy. Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare, but aggressive cancer invading the skin tissue

Breast Cancer Care Team

In this video, Dr. VK Gadi describes the five core disciplines involved in managing breast cancer. In general, there are two doctors that you don't meet very often: they are the "what is it?" and "where is it?" doctors--your pathologist and radiologist. And then there are the "doing doctors." The two that go together, the surgeon and the radiation therapist are responsible for the breast and lymph nodes to make sure that whatever disease was once there is completely annihilated by either removing it (by surgery) or zapping it (by radiation). And finally there's the medical oncologist who comes in to eliminate whatever stray cancer cells that may have found their way to other parts of the body.

NOW Clinic for Breast Cancer

The NOW Clinic provides care for newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. NOW stands for Newly Diagnosed Options for Women, but is also for men. The goal is to see patients within 48 hours, to offer reassurance, and help take away the unknown and fear. By the time patients first see their oncologist they'll know what type of breast cancer they have and what their pathology means.