For most women the main treatment for breast cancer is surgery to remove it. Other treatments are also often given to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back. These can include radiotherapy, hormonal therapy, chemotherapy and biological therapy with Herceptin.
Your doctor will discuss all the options available to you, and you can ask any questions that will help you decide on the best treatment for you.
Many women with early breast cancer are cured. Research is going on all the time and women are surviving for much longer as a result of new and improved treatments. Your breast specialist may ask you if you would like to take part in a clinical trial.
Often only the lump and some surrounding tissue will need to be removed. Women with a large cancer may have chemotherapy or hormonal therapy before surgery to shrink it. This is known as neo-adjuvant therapy.
Sometimes women are advised to, or will choose to, have the whole breast removed (mastectomy). Breast reconstruction can be done at the same time as this or later.
You’ll usually have further treatment as well to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back. In order to decide which treatment is best for you, your cancer specialist will weigh up different factors to assess the chance of the cancer returning.
This section discusses the treatments for primary (stages 1-3) breast cancer. Our section on secondary breast cancer discusses the treatments for breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body (stage 4) or come back after treatment (recurrent breast cancer).