Breast Cancer: Individualized Treatment
When breast cancer is diagnosed, our physicians develop a treatment plan that is individualized to the patient. Breast-sparing surgery is an option for many women, as is breast reconstruction.
When cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, doctors can perform a procedure called sentinel lymph node biopsy to determine if any lymph nodes are involved, and avoid a full lymph node dissection if none of the nodes are cancerous. Women who have a sentinel lymph node biopsy instead of a standard lymph node dissection (in which all of the underarm nodes are removed) may experience less pain and fewer complications.
Radiation is also recommended for many women. Some women may benefit from intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), in which complex computer programs help us avoid radiating normal tissue.
Chemotherapy and hormonal therapy are other treatments for breast cancer. At the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center, we have many clinical trials to determine how best to use chemotherapy and hormonal therapy. We are also exploring new types of chemotherapy, hormonal therapy and biologic therapy.
As many as 25 to 30 percent of women who have breast cancer surgery with lymph node removal and radiation therapy develop lymphedema, a disorder in which lymph fluid accumulates, leading to chronic swelling in the upper arm. Our breast cancer treatment team includes a leading authority on microsurgical treatments for lymphedema. We're one of a few hospitals in the country that offers lymphovenous bypass and lymph node transfer for treatment of lymphedema.
Videos: Breast Cancer Treatment and Support