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Treatment of Breast Cancer – Managing Side Effects

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Treating breast cancer may involve one or more of the treatment options available to your doctor.

Depending on the location and stage of breast cancer, your treatment may be relatively free of side effects or aggressive enough to cause major side effects, which can be debilitating.

​Since your treatment plan is specific to your particular circumstances, your doctor will alert you to possible side effects and suggest steps to reduce or minimize the discomfort. In some cases, additional medications can ease problems such as nausea.

Within the normal range of anticipated side effects, some patients will react more severely than others do. Be prepared to deal with the side effects your doctor anticipates.

In many cases, this involves changes in diet, eating times, normal daily activities and your energy level. It is important to know when conditions fall outside the normal range of anticipated side effects and when you should tell your doctor.

For example, if you have a severe reaction to chemotherapy or targeted therapy drugs, your doctor may be able to adjust the dosage or switch to a different drug that you tolerate better. 

Your doctor may be able to relieve or lessen some of the side effects with additional medications. Some times lifestyle changes such as adjusting eating schedules can offer some relief.

While the side effects of chemotherapy may be unpleasant, the treatment is considered crucial in most breast cancer cases. Marshfield Clinic's cancer team has detailed information on common side effects from treatment.

For patients who have major surgical treatments, care should be taken to avoid infections or damage to the treated area by physical activity. Your doctor will help you understand what to look for and schedule rehabilitation services if appropriate.

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 Breast Biopsy

What Do You Know About Breast Cancer?

Test your knowledge of breast cancer by taking this quiz.

1. Finding breast cancer early is the key to successful treatment.
2. Older women are more likely to develop breast cancer.
3. Most breast lumps are cancer.
4. It's OK to use deodorant on the day you have a mammogram.
5. Women who drink more than one alcoholic beverage a day increase their risk for breast cancer.
6. Women who have their first child before age 30 and breastfeed are less likely to develop breast cancer.
7. Smoking may increase your risk for breast cancer.
8. Breast cancer can be treated by surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.
9. Starting at age 30, women should have a mammogram every 1 or 2 years.
10. A woman's chances of developing breast cancer are higher if her mother, a sister, or daughter had it.
11. It's safe for women to use hormone therapy for a prolonged time during menopause.
12. Regular exercise can reduce your risk for breast cancer.
13. Breast cancer is the leading cause of death in women.