Roswell Park’s breast cancer team takes a multidisciplinary approach to cancer care. This means a team of breast cancer experts from different medical specialties—surgical, medical and radiation oncologists, diagnostic radiologists, pathologists, nurses and experts in genetics, nutrition, rehabilitation medicine and more—are involved in your treatment.
You may not meet everyone personally, but the entire team works together to provide comprehensive and integrated cancer care. The breast treatment team meets weekly to evaluate patient cases and discuss advances in breast cancer treatment. We encourage our patients to learn more about breast cancer treatment. A good place to start is the information from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). You may access and download the NCCN Patient Guidelines for Breast Cancer free of charge. Several Roswell Park breast care physicians serve on the expert panels that assess the latest scientific data and develop these guidelines, which are used by cancer physicians around the world.
Breast cancer treatment may involve one or more of the following approaches:
- Radiation therapy
- Medicines (such as chemotherapy, anti-estrogen hormone therapy and new drugs that are targeted at specific cancer cell changes)
For ALL women with breast cancer, treatment must address two separate issues:
- Treat the breast lump itself. This local therapy approach, typically involving surgery and possibly radiation therapy, treats the cancer in the breast.
- Treating microscopic cancer cells that may have spread. If there is a significant likelihood that your cancer could have spread beyond the breast to other organs or structures, you’ll likely have adjuvant systemic therapy, too. This typically involves medicine therapy like anti-estrogen hormone drugs and/or intravenous chemotherapy.
- Adjuvant = drugs and radiation given in addition to surgery
- Neoadjuvant = drugs given before surgery
- Systemic = throughout the body system