What Is “Systemic Treatment?”
While surgery and radiation provide local treatment to the cancer in the
breast, these procedures do not treat tumor cells that may have escaped
to other areas of the body. Systemic therapy aims to kill any cancers
cells which may have spread into the bloodstream – cancer cells
which cannot be reliably detected by any blood test or imaging - and if
left untreated, could eventually metastasize (spread) to other organs.
There are three different types of systemic treatment:
Who Needs Systemic Treatment?
Systemic treatment should be considered in every woman with invasive breast
cancer. Based on information obtained from your physical exam, breast
imaging, and tumor pathology report, your doctors decide whether systemic
therapy is necessary by assessing the risk and benefit of treatment. Depending
on your cancer, you may get no systemic treatment, chemotherapy alone,
hormonal therapy alone or a combination of chemotherapy and hormone therapy.