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MEDICAL THERAPIES

Often an essential part of the treatment for breast cancer, medical oncology involves the use of a variety of medications to inhibit or kill cancer cells. Even when surgery and radiation are completed, it is still possible for microscopic cancer cells to spread beyond the breast and lymph nodes to other parts of the body. Depending on the patient's case, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, or both —also known as systemic therapies because they treat the entire body rather than just the local area of the breast— may be recommended.

The Comprehensive Breast Service offers the latest innovations in chemotherapy and biological therapeutics. Different chemotherapy drugs have been shown to be effective in specific types of breast cancer, and our medical oncologists have extensive expertise in determining what type of systemic therapy will provide the greatest benefits with the least toxicity. The members of our medical oncology team are encouraging and supportive as they guide the patient and family through the variety of treatment options open to them.

In addition, many different combination programs of chemotherapy drugs—including some of the very new “targeted” therapies—are now employed in the preventative, or adjuvant, setting to prevent the recurrence of the breast cancer. Our medical oncologists have played an important role in the development of many of these newer tactics. The medical oncology team will work closely with the patient to determine the value of participation in any one of the many clinical trials available in the adjuvant setting.

In order to offer our patients the very best cancer care, we are committed to being at the forefront of research for new therapies. New anti-cancer drugs—approved or in stages of development—continue to be researched and may not yet be commercially available. Our medical oncologists have increased access to these important new treatments before many others do and can provide patient access to the leading treatment alternatives. We continue to encourage women with breast cancer to participate in one of our clinical trials that offer new drugs or new combinations of existing drugs.

Whether treatment is being given to prevent a recurrence of an early breast cancer or to treat a more advanced disease, chemotherapy is almost always given as an outpatient regimen in a “chemotherapy suite” adjacent to the medical oncology offices. This provides patients with immediate access to the physician and other medical caregivers. Patients receive treatment by a specialized oncology nursing staff in an area designed for patient comfort and serenity. The entire medical team works with the patient and family to provide superior medical care in the treatment of the breast cancer, while optimizing quality of life at the same time.

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