If the recurrence is local, your treatment will depend on your initial treatment. If you had a lumpectomy, local recurrence usually is treated with mastectomy, because radiation therapy cannot be delivered twice to the same area. If your initial treatment was mastectomy, recurrence near the mastectomy site is treated by removing the tumor whenever possible, usually followed by radiation therapy. In either case, hormone therapy and/or chemotherapy may be used after surgery and/or radiation therapy.
If a tumor is discovered in the other breast, the tumor could be a new cancer unrelated to the first tumor. In this case, treatment would include a lumpectomy or mastectomy and possibly systemic therapy (chemotherapy and/or hormonal therapy).
If the recurrence is distant, involving organs such as the bones, lungs, or brain, the body is treated with systemic therapy. Radiation therapy or surgery of the other affected organs also may be recommended to relieve certain symptoms.
If the recurrence involves cancer cells with high levels of HER2/neu receptor protein, the biological medication, Herceptin, alone or with chemotherapy will be the prescribed course of treatment.