How Long Does it Take to Treat Breast Cancer?

Pink breast cancer ribbon on alarm clock

There are many factors to consider when determining how long breast cancer takes to treat. Even your doctor will only be able to give estimates based on how far your cancer has spread through the breast tissue and where it has metastasized if it has metastasized at all.

Their estimates are based on decades of experience and medical research. However, you should still ask your doctor to give you two estimates, one that imagines everything going to plan and one that factors in common complications. Taking all factors into consideration, the Mayo Clinic suggests that the average treatment length for breast cancer can be divided into two categories: early-stage breast cancer and advanced breast cancer. When trying to figure out how long breast cancer takes to treat, it’s important to start here.

If you’re lucky and catch your condition early on, then your breast cancer treatment will generally last between three and six months. This assumes there is no further growth while you are undergoing treatment. In more advanced cases, you should typically expect a minimum of six months of treatment. How far it goes beyond that depends on how many surgeries you need and how far the cancer has spread.

Survival Happens Every Day

These rough estimates for how long breast cancer takes to treat can be helpful to plan your life around treatment. More importantly, they provide a light at the end of the tunnel for you to focus on. However, for your daily sanity, it may be better to break down your treatment into smaller parts. Take it from one day to the next. Remember, every day you make it, you’re already winning. These factors all affect how long breast cancer takes to treat.


In some cases, where the tumor is still relatively small, your doctor may choose to administer a cycle of chemotherapy prior to surgery. This attempts to shrink the tumor. There are a number of reasons your doctor may suggest this practice. The Mayo Clinic states that it is sometimes used to establish how the tumor reacts to treatment in order to establish a clearer prognosis. In other cases, the pre-surgery chemotherapy may increase the odds of the tumor’s complete removal. All with minimal damage to the surrounding tissues and lymphatic system. However, this is limited to the earliest stages of breast cancer.

For mid-level to advanced cases, surgery almost always precedes other forms of treatment. Science-Based Medicine warns patients that this step may not always happen as quickly as they would expect, but that a delay of a few weeks makes no marked difference in their survival statistics. This time is ideal for your surgeon to schedule your surgery and for you to prepare for the coming challenge. warns patients to not panic or rush their initial surgery. It is perfectly fine to take that vacation you booked months ago or visit your family over the holidays unless your doctor says otherwise. They will tell you if surgery can’t wait.

Dr. Marlene Miltenburg of Breast Health Institute Houston estimates that recovery from surgery typically takes two weeks. As a result, the average patient takes between six and eight weeks to make the transition from diagnosis to post-surgical recovery if they are able to schedule surgery within the first month.


Although some early cases can be treated with radiation therapy, many breast cancer patients have to go through chemotherapy. Medical News Today’s professionally-reviewed article explains that your doctor’s approach to chemotherapy will vary based on your condition. Typically, they will sketch out a plan based on your prognosis. Keep in mind they will monitor progress with every course of chemotherapy you undergo.

A course of chemotherapy can range from one dose to several given over a set period of time. The dosage and frequency will vary based on the individual. Once you’ve completed a course, blood tests will ascertain your body’s response. Chemotherapy is far from pleasant, but each course is a definitive marker you can use to track your progress as you go.

Keeping Cancer in its Place

It’s frustrating when you don’t know exactly how long this nightmare will last, but every step you take has the opportunity to give you hope if you’re willing to treat it as progress. Whether your battle with cancer lasts for three months, six months, or a year, the most important thing is to create a support network you can rely on. Explain to family and friends what you really need from them rather than letting their fear control your life and find a doctor you can really trust.

Coping with Chemo: What to Expect and How to Handle it

Bald woman sitting on yoga mat happy

A breast cancer diagnosis is a life-changing experience. There’s no denying that simple fact. To do otherwise would ignore everything your body has meant to you. Imminent surgery is already a lot to handle. You will have to decide with your doctor how you want to approach it. You can maintain a level of control in regard to your decision of when or if to have reconstructive surgery; however, when it comes to chemotherapy, control can often seem out of reach. This can make coping with chemotherapy very difficult.

Continue reading “Coping with Chemo: What to Expect and How to Handle it”

Taking Control with Breast Cancer Fighting Foods

Pink ribbon on dining table for breast cancer fighting foods

We all worry about what we’re putting in our bodies. However, the rush of daily life so often gets in the way. However, when it comes to cancer, patients must engage with these decisions in a whole new way. It’s no longer a question of a healthy weight or ultimate longevity in the far-off future. When you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, your diet becomes one of the few fighting tools you still have control over. Let’s take a look at some of the most effective breast cancer fighting foods.

Continue reading “Taking Control with Breast Cancer Fighting Foods”

Is Lumpectomy Major Surgery?

Doctor consulting stressed woman and answering: is lumpectomy major surgery?

Lumpectomy describes a procedure which removes cancer from the breast. It should not be confused with mastectomy, the partial or complete removal of the breast. Is lumpectomy a major surgery? With a lumpectomy, only the tumor and a small rim of surrounding tissue are removed. This leaves the general shape of the breast and nipple intact.

Radiation is usually given after lumpectomy to get rid of any cancer too small to be seen on mammograms. The lumpectomy plus radiation Survival rate is the same as with a mastectomy.

Continue reading “Is Lumpectomy Major Surgery?”

Mastectomy vs. Skin Sparing Mastectomy

breast surgeons in Houston

A mastectomy is the removal of the whole breast. It is usually a procedure that women need after a breast cancer diagnosis. There are several different types of mastectomy, including total mastectomy, skin- and nipple-sparing mastectomy, radical mastectomy, and a double mastectomy. Here we will discuss the most common mastectomies. If you are looking for breast surgeons in Houston, look no further than the Breast Institute Houston. With state of the art breast cancer treatment options, we aim to make this journey as painless as possible for you.

Continue reading “Mastectomy vs. Skin Sparing Mastectomy”

The Link Between Infertility Treatment and Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer and Infertility

According to, fertility treatments seem to affect breast cancer risk in younger women who succeed in conceiving. These findings are from a July 12, 2012, study by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Women whose fertility treatments resulted in conception were found more likely to develop breast cancer than those who did not conceive.

Continue reading “The Link Between Infertility Treatment and Breast Cancer”

A Personalized Approach to Breast Cancer Treatment


If you are concerned about your breasts or have been diagnosed with breast cancer, the last thing you are looking for is a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment. When searching for breast cancer treatment in Houston, you will be focused on finding the doctor who provides the most personalized approach. The good news is, today, testing for dozens of biomarkers means oncologists can fine-tune breast cancer treatments in ways not even dreamed of “just an eye-blink ago.”

Continue reading “A Personalized Approach to Breast Cancer Treatment”

How Does Chemotherapy Work?

Cancer treatment chemotherapy room

While there is no one cure for the many forms of cancer, modern medicine has discovered the procedure of chemotherapy as a measure to combat cancer in the human body. However, the process of chemotherapy is a confusing one to understand and there are many different aspects to the treatment. For clarity about chemotherapy, read our guide on how chemotherapy works. If you need chemotherapy in Houston and are looking for a qualified medical professional, contact the team at the Breast Institute Houston.

What is Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is the process of using a drug or a combination of drugs through an intravenous or endocrine application to treat cancer. This process has proven to be an effective but painful treatment, as the drugs used are classified as systemic treatments. This means that in the process of trying to kill or slow fast-growing cancer cells, it can also target healthy, fast-growing cells throughout the entire body.

Systemic treatments take a substantial toll on your health, energy and chemical balances, and healthy cells that attribute to hair growth and stomach lining can be damaged because of chemotherapy treatments. There are ways to cope with the side effects of chemotherapy and the potential for fighting off cancerous cells entirely makes the process more beneficial despite the side effects. If you have more questions regarding the treatment of cancer through chemotherapy in Houston, contact the Breast Institute of Houston to speak with a professional today.

How Does Chemotherapy Work?

When a patient is diagnosed with cancer, the treatment is chosen based on the factors of the type of cancer. These factors include the tumor marker, the tumor size, whether the cancer has presented in the patient’s lymph nodes, and a gene expression profile score. Depending on the results of testing, treatment is determined to respond to the exact type of cancer, and the specific threat it poses. Because cancer cells are aggressive and grow very quickly, chemotherapy treatment must be administered frequently.

In the case of intravenous treatment, the cancer patient will have the drugs administered a few times a week, as instructed by their physician. If the endocrine treatment is prescribed, the patient will be responsible for taking pills orally for up to five years. In the case of an intravenous drug treatment, a patient will go through chemotherapy cycles, where the drugs will be administered every day, for a set amount of days or weeks. After this period, the patient will follow with a rest cycle, where no chemotherapy injections will be received. This allows for physicians to mark how the drug is either aiding the depletion of cancerous cells, or how the drug is ineffective in ridding the cells from a body.

Chemotherapy is a difficult treatment to undergo under any circumstance because of the toll it takes on the body of a patient. Since the drugs administered are formulated to fight constantly growing cells, healthy cells can also be destroyed from chemotherapy treatments. This leads to hair loss and a loss of appetite and stomach strength, since the drugs target these growing cells as well as the dangerous cancer cells. Patients of chemotherapy treatment will most likely endure major hair loss on their head, and throughout their entire body, and can experience symptoms of vomiting or nausea due to the breaking down of stomach lining. While these symptoms can be treated through other drug administration, there is no way to fully resume an aggressive chemotherapy treatment course without experiencing a loss of body vitality, along with the aforementioned symptoms. If you’re looking for an expert opinion on chemotherapy in Houston, or you would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Miltenburg, call the Breast Institute of Houston today and set up an appointment.