When diagnosed with breast cancer, your doctor will identify the stage of your cancer, on which, along with other characteristics like age, genetic mutation status, family history, and personal medical history, treatment will be tailored for you. Treatment options for breast cancer include a combination of the following modalities, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and/or hormonal therapy.

Surgery for breast cancer

There are two surgical options: Breast conservation surgery (BCS) or mastectomy. Feasibility of breast conservation is decided by the size of the tumour in relation to size of the breast, extent of disease within the breast, breast density, patient habitus, underlying health conditions, and patient choice. The lymph nodes will most likely be biopsied at the same time and staged in the same sitting. Those not considered suitable for BCS, are advised mastectomy. Those who undergo mastectomy, may be given options for reconstruction of the breast, either by using a breast implant, or by using the patient’s own body tissue and muscle. Breast reconstruction may be done in the same sitting or a year or two after completion of treatment, based on stage of disease, and treatment required. Surgery is the curative modality for breast cancer, and is essential for cure of disease, unless in very advanced stage.

Radiation therapy

Radiation treatment is a sort of targeted therapy in which high-energy X-rays are used to destroy cancer cells and inhibit their spread. It is often prescribed in patients with locally advanced or advanced cancers, in those having undergone BCS, those with involved axillary nodes and/or large tumours. It may also be used for palliation of pain in those with spread of cancer to the bone, or to radiate certain organs involved by cancer, in those with limited spread of cancer, called oligometastatic disease. This therapy has the potential to reduce the incidence of cancer recurrence, locally. Treatment lasts for about a month.


Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment in which powerful medications are used to kill fast growing cancerous cells in your body. It is usually taken intravenously or orally via tablets. Chemotherapy is prescribed prior to surgery in those patients presenting with locally advanced or advanced disease, used to reduce tumour size in patients who are keen on breast conservation, and in certain kinds of aggressive cancers, such as triple negative breast cancers. Requirement of chemotherapy after surgery, to destroy any leftover cancer cells, and reduc rates of recurrence, depends on a multitude of factors such as tumour type, recptor status (ER, PR, HER2), tumour grade, size, patient age, nodal involvement, genetic mutation etc.