Skip to content

Breast Cancer Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Stage II Breast Cancer Treatment Options

In stage II, the cancer is still contained within the breast and in some cases in nearby lymph nodes. Several treatments may help. You would likely use a combination of them.

Treatments

Surgery is standard. For smaller tumors, you might get a lumpectomy, in which only the tumor and some of the tissue around it are removed. For larger tumors, you might need a mastectomy, in which the breast is removed. In either case, the surgeon will likely remove some of the lymph nodes. After a mastectomy, you might choose breast reconstruction surgery.

Radiation therapy usually follows a lumpectomy. It can kill cancer cells that were missed during surgery. Some women who get a mastectomy will also have radiation, especially if the tumor was large.

Chemotherapy after surgery can help destroy remaining cancer cells that were missed. Some people have chemotherapy before surgery to try to shrink a tumor. If it works, the tumor might then be small enough to remove with a lumpectomy.

You can get chemo several different ways. You may take pills or liquids, but often the drugs are put right into your veins. Depending on the type of treatment, it may be given in cycles that allow your body breaks in between.

Hormone therapy after surgery may help women who have hormone receptor-positive cancer. That means the cancer needs hormones to grow. Medicines can prevent the tumor from getting the hormones. These drugs include tamoxifen for all women, and anastrozole (Arimidex), exemestane (Aromasin), and letrozole (Femara) for postmenopausal women.

Women who haven't reached menopause may consider having their ovaries removed to stop them from making hormones that help cancer grow. They also can take a drug, such as leuprolide (Lupron) or goserelin (Zoladex), to stop their ovaries from releasing hormones.

Targeted therapy is a newer treatment. In about 20% of women with breast cancer, too much of a protein known as HER2 makes the cancer spread quickly. Trastuzumab (Herceptin) treats women with HER2-positive cancer. It stops this protein from making the cancer grow and can make some chemotherapy more effective. It’s often used in combination with chemotherapy.

Clinical trials are open to many women with stage II breast cancer. They may allow you access to cutting-edge treatments. Talk to your doctor to see if a clinical trial may be right for you.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on February 20, 2012

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
 
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
 
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
VIDEO
Resolved To Quit Smoking
SLIDESHOW
 
Woman getting mammogram
Article
Screening Tests for Women
SLIDESHOW
 
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
serious woman
Article
 
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow
SLIDESHOW