Breast cancer treatments not the same for all women

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NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Over the past two days, 22News has been covering stories on screening methods for breast cancer and how doctors diagnose the type and stage of cancer.

When it comes to breast cancer there is no one size fits all treatment, but for most women the treatment involves multiple phases.

“I’m part of a very important 3 part cancer patient team for most patients,” said Dr. Dhara Macdermed, Radiation Oncologists at Cooley Dickinson Hospital. “The surgeon is obviously a very critical part of the treatment team, radiation oncology and medical oncology.”

Dr. Macdermed told 22News the general order a patient is treated begins with surgery, followed by chemotherapy, and ending with radiation. But that order can vary depending on different factors.

“The order in which a patient sees these different specialists can depend on the stage is, but generally the surgeon is part of the initial workup and is involved from the beginning,” Macdermed said. “In terms of the technology we have so far, generally you need to have surgery to have your breast cancer cured.”

But Dr. Macdermed said it’s not the same for all women.

“For many women with early stage breast cancer, they do not need chemotherapy at all and so the only other treatment an oncologist will give them is the hormone blocking pills, that’s taken as the final phase of treatment,” Macdermed told 22News.

The difference between radiation and chemotherapy is that radiation is just targeting one small area, while chemotherapy is going through the entire body.

If you have a question about breast cancer, you can send it to reportit@wwlp.com. Thursday on 22News starting at 5PM, we’ll have medical professionals in studio to answer all of your breast cancer questions.