Breast Cancer Treatment Options
On the Forefront: Giving You Access to the Latest Treatments
What does it mean when we say we are at the forefront of breakthrough breast cancer care? It means we have approaches you won’t find anywhere else in the San Diego community. And a degree of clinical collaboration and cancer-fighting resources that only an academic medical center can provide. We’re pioneering new technologies, new therapies and new approaches, and our patients have first access to them.
A breast cancer diagnosis doesn’t have to be devastating. It’s a new day. Breast cancer survival rates have climbed significantly and breast cancer survivors now represent the largest number of cancer survivors in the country. Options for therapy are improving your choices and minimizing the disruption you’ll experience during treatment.
Your Treatment Plan
You will usually first meet with your surgeon and your plastic surgeon, sometimes at the same time, usually during the same visit to the cancer center to discuss your surgery. You’ll discuss what our pathologists have found out about your cancer and review recommendations and options for treatment. Your options and plans for therapy are for you alone, because your disease is unique. Many factors are analyzed during the development of a therapeutic strategy, including:
- Size and location of the lesion
- Biopsy results (cancer cell composition, stage and constitution)
- Involvement of lymph nodes
- Type of cancer and how aggressive it is
It is at this point that surgical options are discussed for lumpectomy or mastectomy and surgery is scheduled, if required. Some patients may qualify for pre-surgical clinical trials that are testing ways to diminish tumors before surgical removal.
Types of Treatment
Many patients may not require surgical intervention and will be given recommendations for radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy, biological therapy or a combination of several of these modalities.
If your treatment plan includes radiation therapy, UCSD’s advanced technologies include state-of-the-art linear accelerators. These image-guided radiation therapy systems offer virtually unmatched precision, power and speed in pinpointing and destroying tumors. With this high degree of selectivity in targeting cancer cells, you’ll benefit from less damage to healthy cells, fewer complications and faster treatments.
Today’s chemotherapy drugs are often medicines you can take at home. If you need infusion therapy, which is a course of drugs delivered intravenously, you’ll come to our Infusion Center. You’ll see windows overlooking a garden and comfortable chairs that let you put up your feet as you read a book, chat with a family member or talk to other patients. You can pull a privacy curtain if you prefer or you can stroll outside and sit in the garden during your therapy. The center provides snacks or you can bring your own luncheon with you or purchase something from the coffee cart.
Infusion Center nurses can equip you with a central catheter line for your safety and convenience. If you’re having regular treatment or need frequent blood draws, this option may be more comfortable and efficient for you.
In addition to standard approaches to treating your breast cancer, you may qualify for a clinical trial, which is a final stage of research that involves patient participation in the most promising therapies and advanced technologies. Your physician will advise you if you quality for one or more of the studies currently being conducted. For a glimpse into some of the currently open breast cancer research trials, visit our online clinical trials database.
Breast Reconstruction Options
This is also the time for many patients to discuss with their plastic surgeon their options for surgical breast reconstruction. Often the reconstructive surgery can be performed at the same time as the cancer surgery. This approach usually provides a better outcome and eliminates a subsequent operation and the additional recovery process. Learn more about breast reconstruction.