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How Is Breast Cancer Treated?

A nurse treating her patient

Breast cancer is treated in several ways. It depends on the kind of breast cancer and how far it has spread. People with breast cancer often get more than one kind of treatment.

  • Surgery. An operation where doctors cut out cancer tissue.
  • Chemotherapy. Using special medicines to shrink or kill the cancer. The drugs can be pills you take or medicines given in your veins, or sometimes both.
  • Hormonal therapy. Blocks cancer cells from getting the hormones they need to grow.
  • Biological therapy. Works with your body's immune system to help it fight cancer or to control side effects from other cancer treatments. Side effects are how your body reacts to drugs or other treatments.
  • Radiation therapy. Using high-energy rays (similar to X-rays) to kill the cancer.

Doctors from different specialties often work together to treat breast cancer. Surgeons are doctors who perform operations. Medical oncologists are doctors who treat cancer with medicine. Radiation oncologists are doctors who treat cancer with radiation.

For more information, visit the National Cancer Institute’s Breast Cancer Treatment Option Overview. This site can also help you find a doctor or treatment facility that works in cancer care.

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