Breast Cancer Treatment

Treatment of Early Breast Cancer and DCIS

This section discusses treatment for early and locally advanced breast cancers (stages I, II and III). These breast cancers include invasive ductal carcinomas and invasive lobular carcinomas. This section also discusses treatment for ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS or stage 0).

Learn about treatment for metastatic breast cancer.

Starting treatment for breast cancer can be overwhelming. You may be feeling confused, scared or even in shock. Understanding your treatment options will help you be better informed as a patient. Your treatment options are based on your unique breast cancer diagnosis and personal choices.

Each treatment has benefits and risks to consider along with your own values and lifestyle. It’s important to make thoughtful, informed decisions in partnership with your doctor. It’s also important to complete your breast cancer treatment plan. Those who complete their full course of treatment have a higher chance of survival.

Use these links to jump to the topics below.

Treatments for Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS)

DCIS is confined to the ducts of the breast and is a non-invasive breast cancer. However, without treatment, DCIS may progress to invasive cancer over time.

Treatment for DCIS includes surgery, with or without radiation therapy. Some people also get hormone therapy.

Treatments for Early Breast Cancer

Treatment for early breast cancer is designed to remove the cancer from the breast and kill any cancer cells that might still be in your body. Based on your specific breast cancer diagnosis, your doctor will recommend how to best treat your cancer. Your treatment will be based on your personal preferences and:  

Types of treatment 

Early invasive breast cancer is cancer that has spread from the original location (milk ducts or lobules) into the surrounding breast tissue and possibly into the lymph nodes.

Treatment for early invasive breast cancers includes some combination of surgery, radiation therapy and drug therapy (such as chemotherapy).

Treatment for breast cancer in men is similar to treatment for breast cancer in women.

Young women
With treatment, the chances of survival for young women with early breast cancer are good. However, young women may be concerned about loss of fertility (the ability to have a natural pregnancy) and other issues.

Breast cancer recurrence
Everyone who’s had breast cancer is at risk of recurrence (return of breast cancer), but risk varies greatly from person to person. Most people diagnosed with breast cancer will never have a recurrence. Talk with your doctor about your risk of recurrence.

Clinical trials
Over the past 40 years, breast cancer treatment has greatly improved due to findings from clinical trials. Research is ongoing to improve treatment for breast cancer. New therapies are being studied in clinical trials. The results of these studies will decide whether these therapies become part of the standard of care. After discussing the benefits and risks with your doctor, we encourage you to consider joining a clinical trial.

Emerging areas
Perhaps the most promising emerging treatments for breast cancer are targeted therapies. Unlike many standard treatments, targeted therapies attack specific cancer cells and leave healthy cells alone. The hope is they may help limit side effects and improve survival. Learn about these and other breast cancer therapies under study.

Managing Side Effects

Managing side effects is an important part of breast cancer care. All treatments for breast cancer have some side effects. The good news is most side effects can be managed and many can be prevented. Before any treatment begins, talk with your doctor about possible side effects and ways to deal with them.

Learn about possible short-term side effects of treatment.

Learn about possible long-term side effects of treatment.

Supportive care (palliative care)
Supportive care is all the care given to improve your quality of life during and after treatment for breast cancer. It includes taking care of your physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs.

Talk with your doctor about how you’re coping during treatment. They care about your overall well-being and can help you find ways to improve it. They may connect you to another member of the health care team, such as a social worker or patient navigator, for help. They may also recommend you or your loved ones find a counselor or support group.

Susan G. Komen® Support Resources

Patient Care Center
Do you need more information about breast cancer treatment? We’re here for you. The Komen Patient Care Center is your trusted, go-to source for timely, accurate breast health and breast cancer information, services and resources. Our navigators offer free, personalized support for you and your loved ones including education, emotional support, financial assistance, help accessing care and more. Get connected to a Komen navigator by contacting the Breast Care Helpline at 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636) or email helpline@komen.org to get started. All calls are answered Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m to 7 p.m. ET and Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET. Se habla español.

Insurance issues, such as what to do if a claim is denied, can be a major concern while you’re being treated for breast cancer. Paying for medications and other out-of-pocket expenses can also be a burden. Learn about insurance and financial assistance programs.

Facebook Group
Komen’s Breast Cancer Facebook Group provides a place where people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, and those who love them, can find support, friendship and information.

Our Real Pink podcast features candid conversations with breast cancer patients, survivors, scientists and caregivers.



1-877 GO KOMEN


Educational Resources