Do women always need to have surgery when they are diagnosed with breast cancer or are there other treatments?

Surgery is the primary treatment for all breast cancers with only a few exceptions. The exception would be inflammatory breast cancer when the disease is too advanced and chemotherapy and radiation are used to treat the breast and the chemotherapy also treats the remainder of the body for any distant spread of the cancer. Even in these cases if the patient responds she may still get a mastectomy during the course of her therapy to prevent local recurrence in the breast, which can often be quite aggressive. There are many occasions when surgery is the only treatment needed for a breast cancer. We find tumors very early now with screening mammograms. Early non-invasive cancers can simple be removed if not too extensive. Also small invasive cancers in women over 70 years of age can be treated with surgery (lumpectomy) and hormone therapy like Tamoxifen and Arimidex.

– Dr. Arbutina