For the majority of people with breast cancer, treatment options have changed very little in the last 20 years.
Progress in the treatment of breast cancer has been incremental, at best, over the last two decades. Treatment continues to focus on surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and hormonal therapy. Breast cancer treatments themselves continue to cause morbidity and mortality, and we still do not know which individuals need to be treated, and with how much, and which individuals would do fine without any disfiguring or toxic treatments.
For a minority of women with breast cancer - those with tumors that overexpress HER2 - an important advancement has been the development of targeted treatments such as trastuzumab (Herceptin), a monoclonal antibody that targets the tumor cells while avoiding healthy cells.