Breast Cancer

Planning Treatment

There are many treatment options for women with breast cancer. The choice of treatment depends on your age and general health, the stage of the cancer, whether or not it has spread beyond the breast, and other factors.

If tests show that you have cancer, you should talk with your doctor and make treatment decisions as soon as possible. Studies show that early treatment leads to better outcomes.

Working With a Team of Specialists

People with cancer often are treated by a team of specialists. The team will keep the primary doctor informed about the patient's progress. The team may include a medical oncologist who is a specialist in cancer treatment, a surgeon, a radiation oncologist who is a specialist in radiation therapy, and others.

Before starting treatment, you may want another doctor to review the diagnosis and treatment plan. Some insurance companies require a second opinion. Others may pay for a second opinion if you request it.

(Watch the video about this breast cancer survivor's treatment. To enlarge the video, click the brackets in the lower right-hand corner. To reduce the video, press the Escape (Esc) button on your keyboard.)

Clinical Trials for Breast Cancer

Some breast cancer patients take part in studies of new treatments. These studies, called clinical trials, are designed to find out whether a new treatment is both safe and effective.

Often, clinical trials compare a new treatment with a standard one so that doctors can learn which is more effective. Women with breast cancer who are interested in taking part in a clinical trial should talk to their doctor.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health, through its National Library of Medicine and other Institutes, maintains a database of clinical trials at See a list of the current clinical trials on breast cancer.