A diagnosis of breast cancer can feel both scary and overwhelming. But at Central Maine Healthcare, you can rest assured that you have the care and support of some of the region’s best cancer experts.
Breast Cancer Treatment Options
Treatment of breast cancer depends on many factors, including your overall health and wellness, the stage of the cancer (early or advanced), hormone sensitivity of the tumor and your personal feelings around certain treatments and possible side effects. Our goal is keep you feeling well throughout treatment without major changes to your usual routine.
Your personal treatment plan may include one or a combination of:
Breast Cancer Surgery
Surgery is the most common treatment for early breast cancer. Depending on the stage of the cancer, there are different types of surgery available:
- Lumpectomy: Removal of the just tumor and some surrounding tissues.
- Total mastectomy: Removal of the entire affected breast, but no lymph nodes or muscle.
- Modified radical mastectomy: Removal of the affected breast as well as any lymph nodes under the arm where the cancer has spread.
- Radical mastectomy: Removal of the affected breast, lymph nodes and the muscle under the breast.
- Breast reconstruction: One of our skilled plastic surgeons can restore the breast mounds using your own tissue or from other areas of the body, either at the same time or following a mastectomy.
Chemotherapy is used to kill cancer cells with medicines delivered in varied cycles through either an IV or a pill. It may be used to shrink a tumor before surgery, to kill cancer cells that remain in the body after surgery or radiation or to treat tumors that have developed in other areas. Whenever possible, Central Maine Healthcare uses newer medications that help minimize the side effects of chemotherapy.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays (like X-rays) to shrink or kill cancer cells and help prevent recurrence of the disease. The rays can be specifically directed at the part of the body where the cancer is located. Treatments are delivered by linear accelerator, where patients lie on a table in a specially designed room.
Hormone therapy uses medication to block the use of estrogen by the cancer cells, as some types of breast cancer rely on estrogen and/or progesterone to grow. These cells are referred to as “hormone receptor positive” cancer cells. If a tumor is not deemed hormone receptor positive, then hormone therapy is not usually used.
Biological therapy works in with the body’s own immune system to help destroy cancer cells or to assist in controlling side effects resulting from other cancer treatments.
Your Breast Cancer Team
Central Maine Comprehensive Cancer Center provides a team of support for patients diagnosed with breast cancer.
You’ll meet with breast cancer surgeons to discuss the best treatment plans. Our surgeons are one part of your team that also includes radiologists, pathologists, and medical and radiation oncologists. If you choose to have reconstructive surgery following breast surgery, your team will also include CMMC’s plastic surgeons.
All these doctors work together, communicating with each other as needed to give you individualized, focused care. Our nurse navigators serve as your advocate and can help you with other parts of the process, like understanding financial and health insurance requirements, the day-to-day impact of treatments, and other needs as they arise.