Treatments for breast cancer

If you have breast cancer, your healthcare team will create a treatment plan just for you. It will be based on your health and specific information about the cancer. When deciding which treatments to offer for ductal carcinoma and lobular carcinoma, your healthcare team will consider:

  • the stage
  • if you have reached menopause
  • the hormone receptor status of the cancer
  • the HER2 status of the cancer
  • the risk that the cancer will come back, or recur (for early stage breast cancers)
  • your overall health

Expert review and references

  • Bursein HJ, Harris JR, Morrow M . Malignant tumors of the breast. Devita, V. T., Jr., Lawrence, T. S., & Rosenberg, S. A. Cancer: Principles & Practice of Oncology. 8th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2008: 43.2: pp. 1606-54.
  • Foxson SB, Lattimer JG & Felder B . Breast cancer. Yarbro, CH, Wujcki D, & Holmes Gobel B. (eds.). Cancer Nursing: Principles and Practice. 7th ed. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett; 2011: 48: pp. 1091-1145.
  • National Cancer Institute. Breast Cancer Treatment (PDQ®) Health Professional Version. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute; 2010.
  • Breast cancer. National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology. National Comprehensive Cancer Network; 2010.
  • Tripathy D, Eskenazi LB, Goodson, WH, et al . Breast. Ko, A. H., Dollinger, M., & Rosenbaum, E. Everyone's Guide to Cancer Therapy: How Cancer is Diagnosed, Treated and Managed Day to Day. 5th ed. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing; 2008: pp. 473-514.

Treatments for stage 0 breast cancer

Treatment of stage 0 breast cancer is based on the type. Learn about treatment for ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS).

Treatments for stage 1 breast cancer

Surgery is the primary treatment for stage 1 breast cancer. Learn about treatments, including surgery, radiation, hormone therapy and chemotherapy.

Treatments for stage 2 breast cancer

Surgery is the primary treatment for stage 2 breast cancer. Learn about treatments, including surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and hormone therapy.

Treatments for stage 3 breast cancer

Chemotherapy is the primary treatment for stage 3 (locally advanced) breast cancer. Learn about treatments, including chemotherapy, surgery and radiation.

Treatments for stage 4 breast cancer

Stage 4 breast cancer is treated with a combination of therapies. Treatment is given to extend life and manage symptoms. Learn about treatment options.

Treatments for recurrent breast cancer

Treatment of recurrent breast cancer depends mainly on where the cancer recurs and past treatment. Learn about treatment of local or metastatic recurrence.

Surgery for breast cancer

Surgery is the primary treatment for breast cancer. Learn about breast-conserving surgery, the 3 types of mastectomy, and lymph node biopsy and dissection.

Choosing the surgery that is right for you

In most cases, you can choose between breast-conserving surgery and mastectomy. Learn about the advantages and disadvantages of each breast surgery.

Risk of recurrence after surgery and additional treatments

Learn about levels of risk for breast cancer recurrence and types of adjuvant therapy (additional treatment) to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back.

Radiation therapy for breast cancer

Breast cancer is often treated with radiation therapy. Learn about radiation therapy and how it is used after breast-conserving surgery and mastectomy.

Chemotherapy for breast cancer

Chemotherapy is commonly used to treat breast cancer. Learn how and when chemotherapy is used and which chemotherapy and supportive care drugs are used.

Hormone therapy for breast cancer

Hormone therapy is used to treat some breast cancers. Learn about types of hormone therapy used to treat breast cancer and when the therapy is used.

Targeted therapy for breast cancer

Targeted therapy may be used for high-risk, advanced or metastatic breast cancer or to treat bone marrow suppression. Learn about targeted therapy.

Immunotherapy for breast cancer

Immunotherapy is sometimes used to treat locally advanced or metastatic triple-negative breast cancer. Immunotherapy helps to strengthen or restore the immune system’s ability to fight cancer. Immunotherapy is sometimes called biological therapy.

Follow-up after treatment for breast cancer

Follow-up after breast cancer treatment varies. Learn about scheduled follow-up appointments and the procedures and tests that may be done.
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Medical disclaimer

The information that the Canadian Cancer Society provides does not replace your relationship with your doctor. The information is for your general use, so be sure to talk to a qualified healthcare professional before making medical decisions or if you have questions about your health.

We do our best to make sure that the information we provide is accurate and reliable but cannot guarantee that it is error-free or complete.

The Canadian Cancer Society is not responsible for the quality of the information or services provided by other organizations and mentioned on, nor do we endorse any service, product, treatment or therapy.

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