Recurrence of Breast Cancer

Recurrent breast tumor.

Recurring breast cancer, also referred to as recurrent breast cancer, is breast cancer that comes back after a length of time during which it could no longer be detected following anticancer treatment. The breast cancer may come back again in the breast itself or it could have spread to other parts of the body.

Treatment for recurrent breast cancer depends on the location in which the cancer reappears, the treatment regimen that has already been used to treat the original breast cancer as well as the size of the new tumor. Treatment for recurring breast cancer may include one or more of the following options:


The type of surgery performed to treat the recurrent breast cancer will depend on the location where the cancer has reappeared.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy rays to kill the cancerous cells. It can be given externally, meaning the radiation stems from a large machine, or internally, where the radiation is placed directly into the body in the area of the tumor. Radiation is usually given to try to shrink the size of the tumor and/or to help alleviate pain associated with the recurrence.


Given intravenously and by pill, chemotherapy works to kill the rapidly dividing cancer cells. Since chemotherapy is not selective in killing just the cancer cells, it can cause several debilitating side effects including hair loss and nausea.

Hormone Therapy

In certain breast cancers female reproductive hormones such as estrogen and progesterone fuel the growth and spread of the cancer. Hormone therapies block the activation of these female hormones to try to stop the growth of the cancer.

Targeted Therapy

Innovative research over the past decade has yielded a better understanding of how certain genes or proteins such as HER2 stimulate the growth of breast cancer. Targeted therapies have been designed to attack or interfere with the HER2 protein that has been shown aid in the growth of breast cancer.

Bisphosphonate Therapy

In recurring breast cancer, it is not unusual for the cancer to spread to the bones. Therapies called bisphosphonates, which are given intravenously, along with calcium and Vitamin D are given to help prevent bone fractures by strengthening the bone affected by the recurrence.

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