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Breast Cancer: Treatment

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Information Summaries from PDQ

Clinical Trials

  • Find Clinical Trials to Treat Breast Cancer
    Check for breast cancer treatment trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials now accepting patients. The list of clinical trials can be refined by location, stage of disease, drug, and other features.
  • The TAILORx Breast Cancer Trial
    A collection of material about the Trial Assigning IndividuaLized Options for Treatment (Rx), or TAILORx, which will examine whether a molecular test can assign women with early-stage breast cancer to the most appropriate and effective treatment.

Research Findings

  • Two Drugs that Hit One Target Show Efficacy against Metastatic Breast Cancer
    Combining two drugs that target the HER2 protein, trastuzumab (Herceptin®) and pertuzumab, with chemotherapy is a new treatment option for women with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer, according to results from a large clinical trial.
  • Women with Breast Cancer Micrometastases in Their Sentinel Lymph Nodes May Not Need Axillary Dissection
    Results from a randomized clinical trial showed that women with breast cancer and only micrometastases in their sentinel lymph nodes who received axillary lymph node dissection had more side effects but no improvement in disease-free survival compared with women who had no further lymph node surgery.
  • For Some Breast Cancers, New Drug May Be Treatment Option
    Results from an international clinical trial suggest that women with metastatic, HER2-positive breast cancer that is no longer responding to the targeted therapy trastuzumab (Herceptin) may soon have a new treatment option. Women who received the investigational drug trastuzumab emtansine (T-DM1) lived more than 3 months longer without their tumors progressing than women who received the chemotherapy drug capecitabine (Xeloda) and the targeted drug lapatinib (Tykerb).
  • Additional Surgery after Breast-Conserving Surgery Varies Widely
    A study published in the Feb. 1, 2012, issue of JAMA found that the number of women who have one or more additional surgeries to remove suspected residual tumor tissue (re-excisions) following breast-conserving surgery (BCS) for breast cancer varies widely across surgeons and hospitals.

Types of Breast Cancer Therapies

  • Surgery Choices for Women With DCIS or Breast Cancer
    For women diagnosed with DCIS or breast cancer that can be removed with surgery. This guide explains types of breast surgery, such as breast-sparing surgery and mastectomy, and helps women decide which surgery is the best choice for them.
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy
    A fact sheet that describes the sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) procedure, its use in determining the extent, or stage, of cancer in the body, and the results of research on the use of SLNB in breast cancer and melanoma.
  • Breast Reconstruction After Mastectomy
    A fact sheet that describes breast reconstruction after mastectomy, including surgical options, follow-up care, and breast cancer screening after reconstruction.
  • Drugs Approved for Breast Cancer
    This page lists cancer drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for breast cancer. The list includes generic names, brand names, and common drug combinations, which are shown in capital letters.
  • Targeted Therapies for Breast Cancer
    A tutorial about targeted therapies developed to treat breast cancer. It describes important molecular pathways in breast cancer cells and new therapeutic agents, including small molecules and monoclonal antibodies, that target these pathways.
  • Adjuvant and Neoadjuvant Therapy for Breast Cancer
    A fact sheet that explains different types of adjuvant therapy (treatment given after primary therapy to increase the chance of long-term survival) and neoadjuvant therapy (treatment given before primary therapy). Discusses side effects, risks, and benefits of adjuvant and neoadjuvant therapy for breast cancer.
  • Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer
    A fact sheet that describes hormone therapy (including antiestrogens, LH-RH agonists, aromatase inhibitors, and SERMs) and its role in preventing and treating breast cancer. Includes information about possible side effects.
  • NIH Report on the Diagnosis and Management of Ductal Carcinoma In Situ
    An NIH panel urges further research to determine which ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) patients may be candidates for less invasive therapy.
  • Inflammatory Breast Cancer
    A fact sheet about the diagnosis and treatment of inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), an uncommon type of cancer in which the breast becomes red, swollen, and warm.
  • Paget Disease of the Breast
    A fact sheet about Paget disease of the breast, a rare type of cancer that is sometimes called Paget disease of the nipple or mammary Paget disease.

Related Treatment Information

  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
    A fact sheet that describes the process of eliminating the blood supply to tumors. Lists the cancers in which this approach is being tested.
  • Biological Therapies for Cancer
    A fact sheet that provides an overview of how the immune system functions and describes the actions of biological therapies, such as monoclonal antibodies, cytokines, therapeutic vaccines, the bacterium bacillus Calmet-Guérin, cancer-killing viruses, gene therapy, and adoptive T-cell transfer.
  • Radiation Therapy for Cancer
    A fact sheet that defines the different types of radiation therapy and discusses scientific advances that improve the effectiveness of this treatment.
  • Targeted Cancer Therapies
    A fact sheet that describes targeted cancer therapies, which are drugs that block the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with specific molecules involved in carcinogenesis (the process by which normal cells are transformed into cancer cells) and tumor growth.
  • Cancer Vaccines
    A fact sheet that discusses cancer vaccines. Explains how they work, how they are made, and describes research related to their use.