Advanced Treatment & Support for Women with Breast Cancer
When faced with a breast cancer diagnosis, one of the most important decisions you will make is where to go for treatment. When you choose University Hospitals, you will be cared for by compassionate breast cancer experts who understand your concerns, address your fears and reassure you that we can treat your breast cancer. In fact, we offer more cancer fighting tools and breast cancer treatment options than any other provider in the region.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with breast cancer, your first step should be to call 216-844-3951 and schedule an appointment with a cancer expert at UH Seidman Cancer Center. Together with a team of specialists, your doctor will develop the most effective treatment plan for you and get you on the road to recovery and survivorship.
Personalized Women's Breast Cancer Treatment Plans
Treatment plans for each patient are fully customized based on age, family and medical history, overall health and cancer type and stage and may include a combination of surgical interventions, radiation treatments and medical therapies. Every treatment plan utilizes the latest medical knowledge and available clinical trials.
Before each treatment plan is confirmed, it is presented at a multidisciplinary breast cancer tumor board meeting at UH Seidman Cancer Center. The team of clinicians on the board make a consensus recommendation for the best treatment options based on the latest national care guidelines.
Breast Cancer Treatment Options
- Surgical Approaches
For many breast cancer patients, the first step in treatment will be surgery to remove the cancerous tissue while preserving as much healthy tissue as possible. At University Hospitals, our experts offer the most advanced and innovative surgical approaches to treating breast cancer in women, including lumpectomy, sentinel node biopsy, skin- and nipple-sparing mastectomies and breast-conserving approaches.
For many women, breast reconstruction after mastectomy is an important part of their treatment and recovery plan. Restoring the shape and form of their breast(s) may help them feel more comfortable and confident in their appearance. For these women, UH Seidman Cancer Center experts offer the most sophisticated oncoplastic surgery techniques including implant reconstruction, tissue flap reconstruction and DIEP reconstruction. These procedures combine the latest plastic surgery techniques with breast surgical oncology.
Jill Dietz, MD, Director of UH Breast Center Operations, explains the innovative surgery options available to breast cancer patients.
- Radiation Therapy
Many women will require some type of radiation therapy to the remaining breast or the chest wall to help ensure all the cancer cells have been eliminated. At University Hospitals, we offer the most advanced radiation therapy treatment options, including:
- Proton therapy. This advanced therapy delivers a highly targeted dose of radiation to cancer cells with less exposure to the surrounding healthy tissues. It may be especially beneficial for women with left sided breast cancer as the precise delivery of the radiation beam reduces the chance that the nearby heart muscle will be affected. University Hospitals has the only Proton Therapy Center in Northeast Ohio.
- Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT). This type of radiation therapy is used in some patients with early stage breast cancer. If patients have a small, localized tumor they may be able to avoid weeks of radiation therapy after surgery by having a single dose of radiation delivered to the tumor site during surgery while they are asleep.
- External radiation: A type of radiation therapy that uses a machine to aim high-energy rays at the cancer from outside of the body.
- Internal radiation: Uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires or catheters that is placed directly into or near the cancer
The type of radiation therapy or therapies used will depend on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.
- Advanced Medical Therapies
Many scientific advancements have been made in the field of medical oncology over the last decade, offering patients with breast cancer more treatment options than ever before. Depending on your type and stage of breast cancer, your doctor may prescribe one or more of the following medical therapies as part of your treatment plan:
- Genomic Medicine or targeted therapy involves genetic testing of the patient’s tumor. Because most cancers are associated with damaged or mutated DNA, examining tumor cells at a molecular level can help scientists develop targeted medicines designed to seek out and destroy cancer cells based on their unique genetic makeup.
- Chemotherapy. Intravenous chemotherapy may be given preoperatively to shrink the tumor or postoperatively to ensure all the cancer cells have been killed and reduce the risk of recurrence. Nutritional counseling and psychosocial support is also available to patients undergoing chemotherapy.
- Hormone therapy. Many women have breast cancers whose testing shows them to be estrogen receptor positive. These patients benefit greatly from hormonal treatment to block or reduce estrogen, preventing this hormone from stimulating residual breast cancer cells. These anti-estrogens are prescribed by UH Seidman Cancer Center medical oncologists, who carefully choose the medicine with the most benefits and fewest side effects for each individual patient.
- Immunotherapy. Also known as biological therapy, immunotherapy uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. Immunotherapies are designed to alert the immune system to the presence of cancer cells so it can locate and destroy them.
- Clinical Trials
UH Seidman Cancer Center also provides alternative breast cancer treatment with novel therapy approaches through our research and clinical trials program. Examples of recent or current trials include:
- Our preoperative genomics study enrolls women with all types of receptor positive/negative stage 2 or 3 breast cancer. Women are offered preoperative therapy in an attempt to shrink the tumor and improve breast cancer surgery outcomes. The preoperative targeted treatment regimens will vary depending on the molecular subtype of cancer.
- A trial of the new HER2 targeted therapy, TDM1, after completing preoperative therapy, is available for those patients where the tumor does not completely disappear at the time of breast cancer surgery.
- A novel breast cancer dendritic cell vaccine that generates an immune response against the blood vessels that feed a tumor rather than against the tumor itself. This may circumvent a tumor’s ability to develop resistance to immunotherapy.