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Breast Cancer Treatment: A Beginner's Guide

By , Caring.com senior editor
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Quick summary

A diagnosis of breast cancer usually means plunging into the complex world of cancer treatment. Typically, it's an oncologist who plans a course of treatment, though this may be done in consultation with a surgeon and other specialists. Breast cancer treatment may consist of a single process, such as chemotherapy, or more likely it will be a combination of different treatment types, such as surgery followed immediately by radiation, followed later by a course of chemo. Within each of these treatment categories, there are myriad distinctions to understand and decisions to make, which can leave everyone involved feeling overwhelmed.

Here's a guide to the main types treatments for breast cancer and how they work:

Neoadjuvant therapy and adjuvant therapy for breast cancer treatment

Sometimes oncologists prescribe chemotherapy, radiation, or other drugs, such as hormones, to shrink a tumor prior to surgery. This is known as neoadjuvant therapy. Adjuvant therapy is the term for chemotherapy or radiation given after surgery.