After you've been diagnosed, your specialist team will meet to review your pathology results and plan a course of treatment.
This is known as a multidisciplinary team meeting (MDT) and is attended by the clinicians involved in your diagnosis and treatment. This would normally include your surgeon, a radiologist who views and reports on the imaging, a pathologist who reports the findings from the surgical specimen, a medical oncologist who assesses the need for chemotherapy and/or hormone therapy and a radiation oncologist who advises whether radiation therapy is necessary. Breast care nurses and radiographers will also usually attend these meetings.
Your specialist will discuss the recommendations with you afterwards and then you can decide on the option that you feel most comfortable with.
Treatment for breast cancer can be given both locally (surgery and radiation therapy) and systemically (chemotherapy, targeted therapy, hormone therapy).
Each treatment plan is individualised, as no two cases of breast cancer are exactly the same. It is important to understand why a particular treatment plan has been recommended for you and what the expected outcomes and possible side effects are. Many people find that it helps to take a friend or family member to appointments to help remember what is discussed, and to take notes.
Cancer treatments can be complex so don't be afraid to ask for clearer explanations. Remember that no treatment is undertaken without your consent.
The first step in the treatment of early breast cancer is usually surgery to remove the cancer from the breast.
Chemotherapy treatment uses drugs to disrupt the cycles of cell production, causing cancer cells to die.
Radiation therapy (radiotherapy) uses high energy x-ray beams to disrupt the DNA in cancer cells, to kill or control their growth.
Hormone (endocrine) therapies block the production of oestrogen, or prevent it from stimulating breast cancer cell growth.
The following therapies target specific receptors that control the growth of cancer cells.
Questions to ask
We've put together a list of useful questions to ask your surgeon.