Q: If my breast cancer comes back after treatment, what are my options?
Unfortunately, some victims of breast cancer will suffer a recurrence of the disease after they've previously been treated for it. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 11 percent of all breast cancer survivors will be diagnosed with a recurrence of the disease after five years. That number jumps to around 20 percent ten years after the initial treatment ends. Even though those statistics show most breast cancer survivors don’t suffer any recurrences, it is important to be prepared should it ever happen to you or someone you love.
Doctors recommend different treatments for recurrent breast cancer. If the cancer reappears in either the breast or chest wall, one of the most commonly utilized treatment options is surgery. According to the National Cancer Institute, procedures for recurrent breast cancer include both radical and modified radical mastectomies. Often, doctors will recommend that these surgeries be coupled with radiation therapy.
Other options for treating recurrent breast cancer are systematic chemotherapy, hormone therapy or the utilization of the drug trastuzumab, more commonly known as Herceptin. These treatments will often be used in conjunction with one another in an effort to achieve the best possible results. Breast cancer can return locally, regionally or in a distant location in the body. When breast cancer recurs locally, it may be the result of insufficient treatment of the cancer originally.