More about breast cancer treatments

More about breast cancer treatments

Good treatment requires a correct estimate of the size of the tumor and the involvement of any axillary glands. To remove the tumor, the most suitable operation will be chosen and/or a radiotherapeutic treatment (radiation).

To make the future perspective as favorable as possible, additional treatments will be used below, such as chemotherapy, anti-hormonal therapy, and immunotherapy. These therapies are tailored to the properties and extension of the tumor in close consultation between all practitioners and you.

Diagnosis and treatment plan

In order to make the correct diagnosis, coordination between all involved practitioners is required at an early stage. After diagnosis, all possible treatments are considered, such as surgery,  radiotherapy  or other additional treatments. The St. Antonius Cancer Center treatment team consists of specialized surgeons, radiologists, internist-oncologists, radiotherapists, nurses specialized in breast cancer, nuclear physicians, plastic surgeons, pathologists, physiotherapists, and psychosocial supporters. All our patients are discussed weekly in this team so that each patient receives the most appropriate treatment. In addition, the doctors know each other well and can easily and quickly forward you for related complaints within the hospital.

More about breast cancer treatments

If it has been determined that you have breast cancer, the treatment plan will be discussed with you immediately. The specialist will tell you which treatment (s) he advises and which choices you have. Obviously, if you wish, you will have a reflection period before the treatment plan is established.

Many people with breast cancer receive a combination of treatment methods. The choice and order of the different treatments depend, among other things, on the characteristics of the tumor, the stage of the disease, your age, and whether you are before, during, or after the menopause.

Selection aid for metastatic breast cancer

The Choice Help helps people who have been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer to obtain information about their disease and to think about it clearly. The Choice Help provides information and lists various arguments for and against treatment options. You can also use the decision aid when talking to your doctor about the different treatment options.

This decision aid was developed in our hospital in collaboration with the BVN (Breast Cancer Society of the Netherlands) and De Argumentenfabriek. Download the decision aid.

Surgical treatment

In the vast majority of cases, breast cancer treatment begins with the removal of the tumor. Various surgical treatments are possible.

Additional treatment

After surgery, most women with breast cancer receive treatment with medicines aimed at any invisible metastases. This treatment is called adjuvant treatment and is intended to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence in the (other) breast or other places in the body.

Radiation (radiotherapy)

Irradiation focuses radioactive energy on where cancer cells can be found, killing them. After breast-conserving surgery, a series of irradiations always follows as part of the treatment. Radiation is also often advised after surgical removal of the entire breast if the tumor was larger than five centimeters and in more than three axillary lymph nodes containing metastases.


Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer with cell-killing or cell-dividing drugs: cytostatics. Chemotherapy can be part of a curative treatment. Research has shown that the survival rates increase due to this additional treatment.
Chemotherapy is also advised as a palliative treatment when metastases have been diagnosed in someone. Cytostatics can sometimes (temporarily) reduce metastases.

Hormone therapy

Hormonal therapy will treat you if you have a hormone-sensitive tumor. Hormonal therapy is treatment with tablets that you take once a day for 5 years


In 25-30% of all breast cancer patients, there is an increased presence of HER2 receptors (Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptors Type 2) on the breast cancer cell.
In women with a tumor with HER2 positive, it is possible to initiate HER2 antibody therapy (trastuzumab = Herceptin®). The chance that the disease will return after a year of Herceptin treatment decreases considerably and with that the chance of getting metastases.

Rehabilitation in breast cancer

Breast cancer disease has major consequences. During and after the treatment you can suffer from all kinds of complaints. Your condition is deteriorating. You may be tired, anxious, or insecure. Some people are in pain or have difficulty concentrating. Do you recognize these complaints and / or do you want to prevent or limit complaints? Then rehabilitation can be useful.

Expertise and experience

Because we receive nearly 4,000 women with suspected breast cancer every year at the St. Antonius Cancer Center, our teams are very experienced in diagnosing and performing treatments and surgeries.

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