Progress in treatment and early detection has led to improved survival for people of all ages and races, and with all stages of breast cancer.
Between 1989-2014, breast cancer mortality (death) declined by 38 percent among women in the U.S., avoiding about 300,000 deaths .
Over this same time, the rate of new cases of breast cancer has stayed about the same, and breast cancer mortality has declined, so we continue to see a large and growing number of survivors .
In fact, there are more than 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S. today (more than any other group of cancer survivors) !
The goal of treating early and locally-advanced breast cancers (stages I, II and III) is to get rid of the cancer and keep it from coming back.
Treatment includes some combination of:
These treatments are designed to remove the cancer from the breast and destroy any cancer that might still be in the body.
DCIS (stage 0) is a non-invasive breast cancer. DCIS cells are contained in the milk ducts. They have not invaded nearby breast tissue.
Learn about treatment for DCIS.
Metastatic breast cancer (also called advanced or stage IV) is breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast to other organs in the body (most often the bones, lungs, liver or brain).
Learn about treatment for metastatic breast cancer.
Your breast cancer treatment plan is based on both medical and personal choices. Each treatment option has risks and benefits to consider along with your own values and lifestyle.
Your treatment is tailored to:
Because of the differences between tumors and between people, your treatment plan may differ from another’s, even though you both have breast cancer. Breast cancer treatment can be divided into two parts: local and systemic.
Local therapy removes the cancer from a limited (local) area, such as the breast, chest wall or lymph nodes in the underarm area.
It also helps ensure the cancer doesn’t come back to that area.
Local therapy involves surgery, with or without radiation therapy to the breast area.
Systemic therapy aims to get rid of cancer cells that may have spread from the breast to other parts of the body.
Systemic therapy uses drug therapies (either by vein (through an IV) or in pill form) that travel throughout the body to get rid of cancer cells. It includes chemotherapy, hormone therapy and targeted therapy.
Because systemic therapy is used in addition to (an adjunct to) breast surgery, these treatments are often called adjuvant therapy.
Learn about factors that affect treatment options.
Important information from the CDC about the seasonal flu.
Symptom management and supportive care are also important parts of breast cancer treatment.
No matter your age, your treatment plan depends on many factors, such as tumor stage, tumor grade, hormone receptor status and HER2 status.
Your overall health and other health conditions also play a role.
For example, if you have heart disease, some medications used to treat breast cancer can do more harm than good.
All of these things, as well as your age, are considered when developing your treatment plan.
Young women with breast cancer may have special concerns about early menopause and loss of fertility due to treatment.
Learn about these issues for young women with breast cancer.
Throughout your treatment and beyond, you will get care from many health care providers.
Your health care team may include:
These professionals may be involved in your care during diagnosis, treatment and recovery.
Learn about choosing a physician.
You may find it helpful to use a notebook, three-ring binder or other organizer to keep track of your breast cancer treatments and health care team.
You may want to include:
Completing your breast cancer treatment plan (called adherence or compliance) is very important. People who complete the full course of treatment have a higher chance of survival.
Sometimes completing your treatment plan may be hard, but there are things you can do to make it easier.
First, tell your health care provider right away if you have any side effects. Your provider may be able to help. Having fewer side effects can help you complete your treatment plan.
Sticking to your treatment plan can be very hard for long-term treatments, such as hormone therapy. Planning ahead can help you juggle your treatment and daily life.
For example, if you have trouble remembering to take your pills, a daily pillbox or setting an alarm on your watch or mobile device (you may be able to download an app) may help .
Learn more about the importance of following your breast cancer treatment plan.
Insurance issues (such as what to do if a claim is denied) may be a major concern while you are being treated for breast cancer.
Sometimes, paying for medications and other out-of-pocket expenses can also be a burden.
Learn about insurance and financial assistance programs.
If you need help getting to and from treatments or if you (or your family) need a place to stay overnight while getting treatment, there are programs that can help.
There are also programs to help with the cost of child care and elder care while you are undergoing treatment.
Learn about transportation, lodging, child care and elder care assistance programs.
Susan G. Komen®’s Breast Care Helpline:1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636)
Calls to our breast care helpline are answered by a trained and caring staff member Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET and from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. PT. Our helpline provides free, professional support services to anyone with breast cancer questions or concerns, including people diagnosed with breast cancer and their families.
You can also email the breast care helpline at email@example.com.
Interactive Treatment Navigation Tool
Facts for Life: Making Breast Cancer Treatment Decisions
Komen Treatment Assistance Fund
Co-Pay Relief Brochure
1-877 GO KOMEN(1-877-465-6636)
What gives you strength during treatment?