Treatment

Breast cancer can be treated in a number of ways, or a combination of:

Surgery for breast cancer is provided at Antrim Area Hospital or Belfast City Hospital. Chemotherapy for breast cancer can be given at Laurel House at Antrim Area Hospital or the Cancer Centre at Belfast City Hospital.  Radiotherapy can be given at the Cancer Centre at Belfast City Hospital. Both chemotherapy and radiotherapy are also given at Altnagelvin Hospital (particularly for our Northern Trust patients from the Coleraine direction).

Some cases of breast cancer may also be treated using biological or hormone treatments. These treatments will be discussed with you by your breast care team.  You will be given some written and verbal information on your treatment plan if you so wish.

Each person is different and your treatment plan will be tailored to your needs and discussed fully with you before proceeding. Throughout your care, procedures, surgery and treatments will not be carried out without your consent.

Surgery

Most primary breast cancers will be treated with surgery to remove the tumour.

Types

There are three common types of breast cancer surgery:

  • wide local excision/ lumpectomy (Breast Conserving Surgery) – removal of a breast lump
  • mastectomy – a removal of a breast (s)
  • breast reconstruction – reconstructive surgery of the breast area

Surgery may also involve the removal of all, or some lymph nodes from the armpit.

Visit the Macmillan cancer support Breast Cancer page for more information on the types of surgery. Your breast care nurse will support you throughout your breast cancer surgery or reconstructive surgery.

After treatment

After treatment is completed, patients will have regular check-ups. These are very important for the surgeon or oncologist to monitor patient progress.

Patients should contact their Breast Care Nurse for advice if they have a symptom between follow-up visits they cannot explain, which lasts more than a week or is not getting better.

A consultant and/or breast care nurse will explain follow up services to patients after their cancer treatment.  The type of follow up will depend on the individual circumstances of each patient.

Self-directed aftercare

Once treatment for breast cancer is complete, some patients may be able to take part in supported ‘self-directed aftercare’ arrangements.  This allows individuals to take responsibility for and control of their own healthcare.

A doctor or breast care nurse will discuss this with a patient if it is appropriate.

Living with breast cancer

The impact of breast cancer can affect you both physically and emotionally.

For information on living with cancer, including support groups and a wide variety of information and support service options that are local to you, please visit our support section.

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