Breast Cancer Treatment

Breast cancer can vary from person to person. Find out the different ways to treat this disease.

Types of breast cancer treatment


Surgery is the most common treatment for breast cancer. Surgery removes as much of the cancerous tissue as possible. There are 2 main types of surgery to remove breast cancer: breast-conserving surgery and mastectomy. Breast-conserving surgery removes only part of the breast containing the cancer. A mastectomy removes the entire breast, including all of the breast tissue and sometimes nearby tissues. Some women may get a double mastectomy, which is when both breasts are removed.


Chemotherapy drugs enter the bloodstream to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs can be injected or infused into a vein, or given by mouth. Multiple chemotherapy drugs are typically used to treat early breast cancer, but advanced breast cancer is often treated with 1 chemotherapy drug.

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy is a type of treatment designed to block the growth of cancer cells. There are many different types of targeted therapies and they work on different pathways in cancer cells. Pathways that these therapies target include the mTOR, CDK4/6, and monoclonal antibodies.

Hormone therapy

Hormone therapy is used in breast cancers that are ER-positive and PR-positive. This type of treatment stops hormones from attaching to the receptors that help fuel cancer growth. Because it’s a form of systemic therapy, it reaches cancer cells anywhere in the body.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. This type of treatment can be useful after surgery or if cancer has spread to other parts of the body. The need for radiation therapy is determined by the type of surgery performed, whether the cancer has spread, and, in some cases, age.

Knowing your BRCA status may be an opportunity to inform your treatment decisions.

  • CDK=cyclin-dependent kinase.
  • ER-positive=estrogen receptor-positive.
  • mTOR=mammalian target of rapamycin.
  • PR-positive=progesterone receptor-positive.