Treatment methods

Asklepios is in de Griekse mythologie
de god van geneeskunde en genezing.

Empty
No treatment

In addition to the treatments already discussed, patients may also consider not undergoing (parts of) treatment. Undergoing medical treatment must always be a consideration of effect and side effect. The specific advantages and disadvantages of the patient’s situation must be discussed together with the patient’s doctor.

Radiotherapy

Radiation, also called radiotherapy, is a local treatment of the chest and/or armpit using radiation. This radiation comes from outside and goes through the skin. Radiation can be given at different times, namely: instead of or after an axillary lymph node removal, after a breast mastectomy or breast-conserving surgery, in the event of the return of the disease or with metastases.

Possible side effects of radiation
Short term
  • Skin problems
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath and lung complaints
  • Lymphedema
  • Complaints with swallowing
  • Pressing or stabbing pain on the chest wall
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  • Long term
  • Fragile skin
  • Scar tissue formation
  • Heart complaints
  • Fragile bone tissue
  • Damage to blood vessels
  • Long-term inflammation of the mammary gland tissue
  • Risk of a second tumour
  • Chemotherapy

    Chemotherapy is a treatment with drugs (cytostatics) which kill cancer cells or inhibit their cell division. Chemotherapy is given in the form of a treatment course: a period which requires medication, then a period which requires no medication. Chemotherapy can be given at different times, namely: before or after surgery, if there are metastases or in the palliative phase.

    Possible side effects of chemotherapy
    Short term
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhoea
  • Hair loss
  • Skin problems
  • Constipation

  • Long term
  • Decreased fertility or infertility
  • Fatigue
  • Concentration and memory problems
  • Heart damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Osteoporosis
  • Nerve irritations (neuropathy)
  • Targeted therapy

    Targeted therapy is treatment with drugs which specifically target cancer cells. This treatment is only possible if there is a HER2 positive tumour. Examples of targeted medicines are: trastuzumab, pertuzumab and lapatinib.

    Possible side effects of targeted therapy
    Short term
  • Infections
  • Weight loss
  • Eating, taste and metabolic disorders
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea

  • Long term
  • Fatigue
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  • Anti-hormonal therapy

    Anti-hormonal therapy is a treatment with drugs which inhibit the production of certain hormones or reduce their influence. This treatment is only possible if there is a hormone-sensitive tumour. However, this is the case with 90% of men. Anti-hormonal therapy can be given at different times, namely: before or after surgery, if there are metastases or in the palliative phase.

    Possible side effects of anti-hormonal therapy
    Short term
  • Lower libido
  • Erection problems
  • Weight gain
  • Sombreness & depression
  • Fatigue
  • Body hair loss
  • Decrease in muscle strength
  • Joint complaints
  • Eye complaints
  • Headache

  • Long term
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased fertility or infertility
  • Osteoporosis
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  • Sentinel lymph node procedure

    The sentinel node is the lymph node which first collects the lymph fluid from the tumour. A sentinel node procedure is an investigation to see if there are cancer cells in the sentinel gland. If the latter is the case, additional treatment will generally be advised. Additional treatment may consist of radiation and/or in some cases a second operation to remove all lymph nodes from the armpit (axillary lymph node dissection).

    Possible side effects of the sentinel node procedure
    Short term
  • Recurrent bleeding
  • Infection
  • Wound pain

  • Long term
  • Reduced feeling in the arm and armpit area, or nerve pain
  • Restriction of movement of the arm and shoulder
  • Lymphedema


  • For the possible side effects of radiotherapy, see the column “radiotherapy”.

    Surgery

    Surgery can be a breast mastectomy (complete removal of the nipple and underlying tissue) or breast-conserving surgery (only the tumour and surrounding tissue are removed, but the nipple is spared). Breast conserving surgery is usually not possible because men only have a small amount of breast tissue under the nipple.

    Possible side effects of a surgery
    Short term
  • Recurrent bleeding
  • Infection
  • Scar tissue formation
  • Edema
  • Wound pain
  • Numbness and nerve pain

  • Long term (partly due to axillary node removal)
  • Reduced feeling in the arm and armpit area, or nerve pain
  • Restriction of movement of the arm and shoulder
  • Lymphedema
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  • Breast reconstruction

    There is a possibility of breast reconstruction after a mastectomy. This reconstruction can consist of various parts; creating a new nipple of the skin around the existing scar, creating an areola by means of medical tattooing and filling up any dents caused by the breast mastectomy using one’s own fatty tissue (lipofilling).

    Possible side effects of breast reconstruction
    Short term
  • Recurrent bleeding
  • Infection
  • Wound pain

  • Long term
  • Capsular contracture
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  • Information from this fact sheet comes partly from Kanker.nl and the Dutch Breast Cancer Society. For more information regarding the treatment options, please visit:
    Kanker.nl
    Borstkankervereniging Nederland