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Breast Cancer Health Center

Understanding Breast Cancer -- Diagnosis & Treatment

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What Are the Treatments for Breast Cancer? continued...

Other types of hormone therapy keep the body from changing testosterone into estrogen. These drugs are called aromatase inhibitors. Examples are anastrozole (Arimidex), exemestane (Aromasin), and letrozole (Femara). They only work in postmenopausal women, but they work better than tamoxifen. Most people take them for 5-10 years.

For premenopausal women, doctors sometimes can treat breast cancer by making the ovaries stop working. The treatment, called ovarian ablation, means removing the ovaries with surgery, treating them with radiation, or blocking the hormone that makes them work with a group of drugs known as LHRH or GnRH agonists. Most of the time, doctors use this treatment for cancer that has spread beyond the breast.

Targeted Therapy for Breast Cancer

Targeted therapy is another way to fight cancer. About 25% of women with breast cancer have too much of a protein known as HER2, which makes the cancer spread more quickly. Several targeted therapies fight HER2-positive breast cancer. Options include ado-trastuzumab emtansine (Kadcyla), lapatinib (Tykerb), pertuzumab (Perjeta), and trastuzumab (Herceptin). You can take them along with other medicines. For HER2-negative breast cancers, everolimus (Afinitor) or palbociclib (Ibrance) can treat women with advanced, hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer.

At-Home Recovery

After breast cancer surgery, a regular routine of simple exercises can ease muscle stiffness and help you move your body normally again. If you’ve had radiation, avoid wearing a tight-fitting bra or clothes that may irritate your skin around the treatment area. Keep your skin clean and wear loose clothing, and use only the skin lotions, creams, and deodorants that your doctor recommends.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on November 11, 2015
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