Breast Cancer Treatment

NYU breast cancer experts are committed to providing the best possible care to ensure optimal outcome in both quality and quantity of life for our patients. Our specialists will work with your physician to ensure continuity of care.

Our multidisciplinary team of surgeons, medical oncologists, radiologists, radiation oncologists, reconstructive plastic surgeons, and pathologists collaborate to design a personalized treatment plan based on the type and stage of your cancer and the latest findings from innovative research. Your treatment may include:

Surgery to remove the tumor: Surgeons at the Perlmutter Cancer Center are experts in the full range of surgical techniques for treating breast cancer, including breast-conserving surgery, standard mastectomy and skin-sparing mastectomy, sentinel lymph node biopsy, and standard axillary lymph node dissection. 

Some 85 percent of breast cancer surgeries are performed on an outpatient basis-even mastectomies. A woman may be admitted as an inpatient if she has reconstruction at the time of mastectomy or other complications that prevent her from returning home the same day. But most of the time, the patient has her procedure and is back in her own bed by nightfall. Breast surgeons are also incorporating "oncoplastic" techniques into their repertoire to enhance the appearance of the breast area after surgery.

Reconstruction: If your treatment involves mastectomy, NYU breast surgeons team with reconstructive surgeons to provide the best breast reconstruction possible. Our surgeons are committed to improving patients' quality of life with reconstructive surgery that improves their appearance, sexual satisfaction, and other important factors.

In addition to offering the latest implants and tissue reconstruction procedures, NYU's breast reconstruction surgeons are involved in the research and development of novel procedures such as the DIEP (deep inferior epigastric perforator) flap procedure, in which a breast mound is constructed using skin and fat (but not muscle) from the lower abdomen, and the S-GAP (superior gluteal artery perforator) flap technique, in which tissue from the upper buttocks is used. Our breast reconstruction experts are exceptionally well trained in microvascular surgery-a skill set important for performing the newer flap reconstruction techniques, which require surgeons to connect tiny blood vessels from transplanted tissues to create a viable new breast mound.

Chemotherapy: Our medical oncologists identify the most effective drugs and drug combinations for each patient. Perlmutter Cancer Center patients have access to standard treatment regimens as well as novel investigational therapies and targeted treatment methods being evaluated in clinical trials. Chemotherapy is delivered by our acclaimed and highly experienced oncology nurses.

Hormonal therapies are an option for many women whose breast tumors are fueled by estrogen or progesterone. They are used to reduce the risk of recurrence. Patients may receive tamoxifen to block the estrogen receptor. Patients who are postmenopausal may take an "aromatase inhibitor," which interferes with cancer cell growth by inhibiting the enzyme involved in estrogen production. Examples of aromatase inhibitors include letrozole, exemestane, and anastrozole. Perlmutter Cancer Center physicians work closely with each patient to determine if she is a candidate for hormonal therapy, and if so, which drug is the most appropriate treatment for her.

Radiation therapy: The Perlmutter Cancer Center's renowned Department of Radiation Oncology provides high-quality, comprehensive radiation therapy using state-of-the-art technology. Breast cancer patients can receive radiation treatment according to standard guidelines, or enroll in clinical research protocols that are assessing shorter total treatment time, partial breast irradiation, delivery of radiation therapy in the prone position, and intensity-modulated radiation therapy.

Preserving fertility: Some anticancer drugs and hormonal treatments used in breast cancer therapy can cause premature menopause and/or infertility. In 2005, Fertile Hope designated the Perlmutter Cancer Center as a Center of Excellence for educating patients and healthcare professionals about the reproductive risks of cancer therapy; making referrals to appropriate fertility specialists; and, whenever possible, conducting research on cancer and fertility. Fertile Hope is a national organization dedicated to providing reproductive information, support, and hope to cancer patients whose medical treatments present the risk of infertility.

Today there are a variety of options available to preserve fertility, such as preservation of unfertilized eggs or fertilized embryos before cancer treatment begins (using traditional in vitro fertilization techniques). Along with NYU Medical Center's renowned infertility experts, physicians and nurses from the Perlmutter Cancer Center are collaborating to assemble clinical practice guidelines outlining how to discuss fertility issues with patients and when to refer them for counseling.