Types of Breast Cancer Therapy


Types of Surgeries

Lumpectomy: Surgery to remove abnormal tissue or cancer from the breast and a small amount of normal tissue around it. It is a type of breast-sparing surgery.

Mastectomy:Surgery to remove the breast (or as much of the breast tissue as possible).

Prophylactic mastectomy: Surgery to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer by removing one or both breasts before disease develops. Also called preventive mastectomy.

Lymph node dissection: A surgical procedure in which the lymph nodes are removed and examined to see whether they contain cancer. For a regional lymph node dissection, some of the lymph nodes in the tumor area are removed; for a radical lymph node dissection, most or all of the lymph nodes in the tumor area are removed. Also called lymphadenectomy.

Breast reconstruction: Surgery to rebuild the shape of the breast after a mastectomy.



A treatment with drugs that kill cancer cells. It is a systemic therapy, which means it affects the whole body by going through the bloodstream. In many cases, a combination of two or more medicines will be used as chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer.



A highly targeted, highly effective way to kill and shrink tumors cancer cells in the breast usually after surgery. There are two main types of radiation, external (the most common) and internal.


Hormonal Therapy

Treatment that adds, blocks, or removes hormone receptor-positive breast cancers. It lowers the amount of the hormone estrogen in the body and blocking the action of estrogen on breast cancer cells. There are several types of hormonal therapy, including aromatase inhibitors such as Aromasin, Arimidex, and Femara. Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators such as Tamoxifen and Evista. As well as Estrogen Receptor Downregulators such as Faslodex.


Targeted Therapies

Target specific characteristics of cancer cells, such as a protein that allows the cancer cells to grow in a rapid or abnormal way. There are 3 types of targeted therapies; Herceptin, Tykerb, and Avastin.


Definitions provided by The National Cancer Institute and Breastcancer.org. For more in-depth information, please see the Resources Page, which provides a list of websites that can be helpful.