Treatments for Breast Cancer

Surgical Procedures

Dr. Kounalakis and other surgeons in the operating roomPartial Mastectomy — An operation to remove the cancer from the breast without removing the entire breast. This is also called a lumpectomy.

Mastectomy — An operation to remove the entire breast. Mastectomy is required in some situations. Some women choose mastectomy.

Preventive (Prophylactic) Mastectomy — For women at extremely high risk of developing breast cancer, removing the breast can decrease that risk substantially.

Sentinel Node Biopsy — When a breast cancer spreads outside of the breast, the lymph nodes under the arm are a common location to receive those cancer cells. A sentinel lymph node biopsy removes a few of the lymph nodes most likely to receive those cancer cells to evaluate whether or not the cancer has spread.

Axillary Lymph Node Dissection — If cancer has spread to the lymph nodes under the arm, often those lymph nodes need to be removed. An axillary lymph node dissection removes most of the lymph nodes under the arm.

Reconstruction — An operation to rebuild the shape of the breast after a mastectomy. It can be done at the same time as a mastectomy or later, depending on individual circumstances and the doctor’s recommendation. At the University of Colorado Breast Center we offer all types of breast reconstruction, including tissue expansion with implants, direct-to-implant reconstruction, DIEP and other tissue-transfer reconstructions, and oncoplastic reconstruction after lumpectomy. For more information, visit the Patient Care page of our Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.


Chemotherapy patientRadiation Therapy — The use of high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy is usually done after a full or partial mastectomy to destroy any remaining breast cancer cells.

Chemotherapy — The use of anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells.

Biological Therapy — The use of medications to help the body’s immune system fight breast cancer.

Hormonal (Endocrine) Therapy — Medications that block the production or binding of estrogen to treat and prevent breast cancer. Tamoxifen is one hormonal medication that blocks the binding of estrogen to cancer cells. Aromatase inhibitors are another group of hormonal medicines that prevent the production of estrogen in the body.