Breast Cancer Treatment Approaches
City of Hope is at the forefront of breast cancer treatment. We take a comprehensive and aggressive approach to treatment offering state-of-the-art surgical, medical and radiation therapies, including many that are not yet available to the general public. Additionally, our supportive care and long-term follow-up programs to help patients and their families manage the process of treatment and recovery.


City of Hope offers the latest advances in the surgical management of breast cancer provided by specialized surgeons. The scope of  surgery is determined by the size and extent of the breast cancer.

For patients with small tumors and early-stage breast cancer, breast-conserving surgery is a treatment option providing optimal cancer surgery while achieving excellent cosmetic outcomes. For patients with larger tumors, chemotherapy can sometimes be given before surgery to shrink the tumor, which can help make breast conservation an option.
Our surgeons also specialize in nipple-sparing mastectomies to help preserve breast appearance. This technique can be used for breast cancer patients or as “risk reduction” surgery in patients who are at very high risk for developing breast cancer.

Patients who are not candidates for breast conservation or who elect to undergo a total mastectomy with removal of all breast tissue may still have reconstructive surgery, either immediately or at a later time.

Reconstruction can be performed either using implants or the patient’s own tissue to create the most natural breast possible. Our surgeons also specialize in secondary reconstructive surgery when initial procedures prove unsatisfactory. At City of Hope, our plastic and reconstructive surgeons have developed a novel technique to recreate the nipple and areola, providing better cosmetic results with minimal scarring.


Chemotherapy are drugs that can fight cancer throughout the body, slowing or stopping their growth and spread.

Patients with small tumors or early-stage breast cancer may receive chemotherapy alone, neoadjuvant chemotherapy, or drugs given before surgery to help shrink the tumor and/or adjuvant chemotherapy, drugs given after surgery to eradicate remaining cancer cells.

Patients with large primary tumors may be considered for neoadjuvant treatment. Patients with more advanced disease may also be candidates for new strategies developed to slow the spread of cancer. These may include combinations of standard medicines, targeted therapies or investigational drugs that are still being studied.

Hormone Therapy

Approximately two-thirds of breast cancers are reliant on hormones (estrogen and/or progesterone) to fuel their growth and spread, so drugs that decrease hormone production can help slow or halt the disease. It is most often used as adjuvant therapy (given after surgery) to reduce likelihood of cancer recurrence, but may be used in other settings as well.

Additionally, for pre-menopausal women with estrogen-sensitive breast cancers, the ovaries may be shut down (either through surgical removal or drugs suppress ovarian function) to further reduce hormone levels in the body.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is often used in treating breast cancer. It may be employed as a stand-alone treatment or in combination with surgery and other treatments to treat the disease and to help reduce likelihood of recurrence.

Radiation therapies available at City of Hope include advanced partial breast irradiation techniques. These focus radiation only on the affected area, rather than the entire breast.

Types of radiation therapies offered at City of Hope include:

External Beam Radiation Therapy: External Beam Radiation Therapy is the most common form of radiation therapy, where radiation is directed at the tumor from outside the body.

Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT): IMRT targets tumors with smaller beams of radiation, which can be sculpted to precisely match the tumor’s contours. This allows for a higher dose of radiation to be delivered directly to the cancer while avoiding unnecessary exposure of healthy tissues. Treatment with IMRT may also minimize certain side effects.
Intra-operative Radiotherapy (IORT): Select breast cancer patients at City of Hope may be able to receive radiation therapy during surgery. This technique enables many women to receive their entire course of radiation on the same day as their surgery, rather than stretching out radiation treatment over six to eight weeks.

Become a Patient

If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about  becoming a patient or contact us at 800-826-HOPE.