Sentinel lymph node biopsy, postmastectomy radiotherapy and the use of newer agents such as taxanes and aromatase inhibitors are recent advances in the management of early breast cancer.
- Early breast cancer is potentially curable and, therefore, prompt diagnosis and treatment are crucial.
- Surgery is the definitive treatment, but a combination of radiotherapy and adjuvant systemic therapy is often used to reduce the risk of local and systemic recurrence and improve the cure rate.
- Almost all women undergoing partial mastectomy should have postoperative radiotherapy.
- Adjuvant systemic therapy consists of hormonal therapy (and chemotherapy if high risk tumours) for women with hormone responsive tumours and chemotherapy alone for women with hormone unresponsive tumours.
- Decisions regarding the best combinations of local and systemic therapies for a patient requires close collaboration between breast surgeon, medical oncologist and radiation oncologist, with input from the patient regarding her preferences in light of the risks and benefits of treatment.
- Supportive care reduces the impact of treatment side effects and improves the quality of life of women undergoing treatment for early breast cancer.