Breast Cancer Treatment

Breast Cancer Treatment By Stage & Cost in India

Breast cancer treatment varies greatly depending on when it’s detected. Staging, which determines how far the cancer has spread, is crucial for making treatment decisions. There are four main stages: 0 to 4. Stage 0 means the cancer is noninvasive, while stage 4 indicates it has spread to distant organs.

In the early stages (0 to 2), treatment often involves localized methods like surgery, radiation, and sometimes hormone or chemotherapy. For instance, stage 0 might only need surgery to remove abnormal cells, while stage 2 might require more extensive surgery to remove the tumor and nearby lymph nodes.

As breast cancer progresses to stages 3 and 4, treatment becomes more complex, involving systemic therapies like chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. While surgery may still be necessary for symptom management, the focus shifts to controlling cancer growth and enhancing quality of life.

Breast cancer treatment in India typically costs around INR 7,00,000 on average. However, the total expense can go up to INR 16,50,000 in some cases. These costs cover different aspects like tests, surgeries, medicines, and follow-up care. The final bill may vary based on factors such as the type of treatment needed and where it’s done. Patients should talk to their doctors about the costs involved and check if there are any ways to get financial help if needed.

Understanding treatment options at each stage is vital for patients and their healthcare teams to create personalized plans. By addressing the cancer at its specific stage, healthcare providers can improve outcomes and offer the best care for individuals fighting breast cancer.

Understanding Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Treatment

Breast cancer is a type of cancer that forms in the cells of the breast. It occurs when abnormal cells in the breast grow uncontrollably, forming a tumor. These tumors can be either malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous).

Breast cancer can affect both men and women, but it is more commonly diagnosed in women. It is the most common cancer among women worldwide.

There are several types of breast cancer, including ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC), and inflammatory breast cancer, among others.

Risk factors for breast cancer include age, family history, genetic mutations (such as BRCA1 and BRCA2), hormonal factors, lifestyle choices, and environmental factors.

Early detection through regular breast self-exams, clinical breast exams, and mammograms can improve the chances of successful treatment. Treatment options for breast cancer may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy, depending on the type and stage of cancer.

Breast cancer treatment aims to remove or destroy cancer cells, prevent recurrence, and improve survival rates, often through a combination of therapies tailored to each individual’s needs.

Stage 0 Breast Cancer & Treatment

Stage 0 breast cancer, also known as noninvasive breast cancer, indicates the presence of cancer cells that have not spread beyond the breast. This type of cancer typically includes ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS).

DCIS: In DCIS, cancer cells form within the milk ducts of the breast but have not invaded surrounding tissue.

LCIS: LCIS involves cancer cells in the milk-producing glands of the breast, without spreading beyond these lobules.

While a mammogram can detect DCIS, LCIS is often found incidentally during a biopsy for another breast tissue.

Early detection of stage 0 breast cancer allows for prompt treatment, potentially preventing progression to invasive cancer.

Treatment Options


  • Lumpectomy: Removes cancerous cells from a localized area of the breast. It’s a relatively simple outpatient procedure, preserving much of the breast tissue.
  • Mastectomy: Removes the entire breast, recommended if cancer cells are widespread. Reconstruction may be done concurrently or later. It’s a more extensive procedure with longer recovery time.

Hormone Therapy:

  • For breast cancer that is estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) or progesterone receptor-positive (PR+), doctors may suggest hormone therapy along with surgery. This treatment blocks the effects of estrogen, which helps lower the chance of cancer coming back or spreading. It’s like putting a stop sign in front of the hormone that fuels cancer growth. By using hormone therapy, doctors aim to control the cancer and improve the chances of recovery for patients with this type of breast cancer.

While not everyone with stage 0 breast cancer requires treatment, early diagnosis allows for timely intervention, increasing the chances of successful management. Treatment decisions should be made in consultation with healthcare providers to tailor an approach that best suits individual needs and circumstances.

Stage 1 Breast Cancer & Treatment

In stage 1 breast cancer, cancerous cells have begun to invade the surrounding breast tissue. This stage comprises two subcategories: 1A and 1B.

Stage 1A: 

  • Tumor size: No larger than 2 centimeters (cm), not spreading beyond the breast.

Stage 1B: 

  • Invasive cancer: Cancer cells form clusters of 0.2–2 millimeters (mm) in diameter, possibly present in the lymph nodes.
  • Tumor presence: A tumor up to 2 cm in the breast with small groups of cancer cells in the lymph nodes.

Treatment Options


For stage 1 breast cancer, surgery is an option. A lumpectomy or mastectomy might be chosen, depending on factors like tumor size, location, family history, and personal choice. The doctor may also check lymph nodes with a biopsy. Tissue removed during surgery gets sent to a lab for testing. The results help decide what treatment comes next.

Radiation Therapy:

Radiation therapy is often used to treat early-stage breast cancer, but whether it’s needed depends on a few things. These include how old the person is, what kind of cancer they have, how big the tumor is, and if cancer cells are in their lymph nodes. By looking at these factors, doctors can figure out the best way to treat each person’s cancer, making sure they get the right care for their situation.

Hormone Therapy:

Hormone therapy is a beneficial option for breast cancer cases that are ER+ or PR+. Its effectiveness lies in blocking estrogen, a hormone that fuels cancer growth. This therapy prevents estrogen from attaching to tissue, hindering cancer’s ability to thrive. By targeting cancer cells in the breast and beyond, hormone therapy not only curbs the growth of existing cancer but also lowers the risk of its recurrence. 

This approach offers a comprehensive strategy for managing hormone-sensitive breast cancer, providing patients with a treatment plan aimed at both current and future well-being.


Chemotherapy might be advised by a doctor based on factors like tumor size, its potential to spread, and the tumor’s hormone receptor status. However, not all cancer types respond to this treatment. To help decide if chemotherapy is beneficial for a person, the doctor may recommend a test called Oncotype DX. 

This test assesses whether the benefits of chemotherapy outweigh the drawbacks for individual cases. Factors such as the tumor’s hormone receptor status and extent of spread are considered in making this recommendation, ensuring a tailored approach to treatment.

Targeted Therapy:

HER2-positive breast cancer may benefit from targeted therapy like trastuzumab (Herceptin), which specifically targets cancer cells with less severe side effects compared to chemotherapy.

Treatment decisions for stage 1 breast cancer are multifaceted, considering tumor characteristics, receptor status, and individual health factors. Collaboration between patients and healthcare providers is crucial in determining the most effective treatment plan tailored to each person’s needs, ensuring optimal outcomes and quality of life.

Stage 2 Breast Cancer & Treatment

Stage 2 breast cancer is characterized by invasive cancer, with subcategories 2A and 2B, each presenting distinct features.

Stage 2A:

  • Tumor Spread to Lymph Nodes: Cancerous masses over 2 mm in diameter grow in up to three axillary lymph nodes or lymph nodes near the breastbone, despite no tumor growth in the breast.
  • Tumor Size: Tumor in the breast is under 2 cm in diameter but has spread to axillary lymph nodes, or the tumor is 2–5 cm in diameter without lymph node involvement.

Stage 2B:

  • Invasive Cancer with Lymph Node Involvement: Tumor 2–5 cm in diameter grows in lymph nodes alongside clusters of cancerous cells, or tumor size exceeds 5 cm without lymph node spread.

Treatment Options:


Lumpectomy or Mastectomy: Surgical removal of cancerous tissue, with consideration of tumor size, location, and individual preferences. Lymph node removal may also be necessary.

Combination Therapy:

Radiation Therapy: Administered post-surgery to eliminate remaining cancer cells, often combined with chemotherapy and hormone therapy (if applicable) for comprehensive treatment.

Neoadjuvant Therapy:

Chemotherapy Before Surgery: Sometimes recommended to shrink the tumor before surgery, facilitating easier removal and potentially reducing the extent of surgery needed.

Treatment for stage 2 breast cancer typically involves a multidisciplinary approach, combining surgery with adjuvant therapies to maximize effectiveness in eradicating cancer cells and preventing recurrence. Collaboration between patients and healthcare providers is essential in devising personalized treatment plans tailored to individual needs and circumstances, promoting optimal outcomes and quality of life.

Stage 3 Breast Cancer & Treatment

Stage 3 breast cancer is characterized by advanced, invasive cancer, further categorized into 3A, 3B, and 3C, each with specific characteristics.

Stage 3A:

  • Lymph Node Involvement: Cancer detected in four to nine axillary lymph nodes or lymph nodes near the breastbone, with or without a tumor in the breast.
  • Tumor Size: Tumor larger than 5 cm with cancerous clusters in lymph nodes, or tumor over 5 cm with spread to one to three axillary lymph nodes or lymph nodes near the breastbone.

Stage 3B:

  • Invasive Cancer with Skin or Chest Wall Involvement: Tumor invading the chest wall or skin of the breast, often presenting with swelling or ulcers.
  • Lymph Node Spread: Cancer may involve up to nine axillary lymph nodes or lymph nodes near the breastbone.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer:

  • Skin Involvement: Inflammatory breast cancer occurs when cancer spreads to the skin of the breast, typically classified as at least stage 3B.
  • Symptoms: Symptoms include reddening, swelling, and warmth in the breast due to cancer cells’ presence in the skin and lymph nodes.

Stage 3C:

  • Extensive Cancer Spread: Cancer spreads to the chest wall, skin of the breast, or lymph nodes above or below the collarbone, axillary lymph nodes, or lymph nodes near the breastbone.
  • Lymph Node Involvement: Presence of cancer in 10 or more axillary lymph nodes, indicating advanced disease progression.

Treatment Options:


Administered to shrink tumors and destroy cancer cells systemically. It involves the use of potent drugs to disrupt cancer cell growth and division, often leading to side effects such as hair loss and fatigue.


A primary treatment involving the removal of cancerous tissue from the breast. Options include lumpectomy (removing the tumor and surrounding tissue) or mastectomy (removing the entire breast), sometimes coupled with lymph node removal.

Radiation Therapy: 

Targets and kills remaining cancer cells post-surgery using high-energy beams. It helps reduce the risk of cancer recurrence and can be administered externally or internally.

Targeted Therapy: 

Specific medications targeting molecular characteristics of cancer cells, such as HER2-positive breast cancer, to inhibit cancer growth.

Hormone Therapy: 

Inhibits hormone-related cancer growth in hormone receptor-positive breast cancer by blocking hormone receptors or reducing hormone levels in the body.

Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy: 

Administered before surgery to shrink tumors and facilitate surgical removal, particularly beneficial for large or inoperable tumors.

Treatment for stage 3 breast cancer is multifaceted, aiming to eradicate cancer cells, prevent recurrence, and improve overall survival. A comprehensive approach, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted therapies, is often necessary to address the complexities of advanced-stage disease. Collaboration between patients and healthcare providers is essential in devising personalized treatment plans tailored to individual needs, ensuring the best possible outcomes and quality of life.

Stage 4 Breast Cancer & Treatment

Treatment for stage 4 breast cancer typically involves a combination of therapies, including chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. These treatments aim to slow the progression of the cancer and alleviate symptoms.

While surgery to remove tumors is rare at this stage, it may be considered to address specific issues like pain or complications such as spinal cord compression or broken bones caused by metastasis.

In addition to medical interventions, medications may be prescribed to manage symptoms such as pain. Clinical trials for new treatments are also an option, offering hope for improved outcomes. Individuals should consult their doctor to explore available trial options and discuss the best treatment approach for their situation.

Factors Affecting the Cost of Breast Cancer Treatment in India

Several factors contribute to the cost of breast cancer treatment in India, reflecting the complexity of the disease and the individualized nature of care.

Stage of Cancer

The stage or severity of breast cancer significantly impacts treatment costs. Early-stage cancers may require less aggressive treatments, such as surgery or radiation therapy, leading to lower overall expenses. 

Conversely, advanced stages often necessitate more intensive interventions like chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy, which can escalate treatment costs due to prolonged treatment duration and the need for specialized medications.

Age and Physical Health

Patient demographics, including age and relative physical health, play a crucial role in determining treatment options and associated costs. 

Younger patients may require more aggressive treatments to achieve optimal outcomes, while older individuals may have comorbidities that influence treatment decisions and overall costs.

Hospital Admission Fees

The fee for admission into the hospital for breast cancer treatment is a significant component of overall treatment expenses. 

Factors such as the hospital’s reputation, facilities, and location can influence admission fees. Specialized cancer centers or private hospitals may charge higher admission fees compared to government-run facilities.

Choice of Accommodation

The cost of the type of room chosen for hospital stay also impacts treatment expenses. Patients can opt for various accommodations ranging from general wards to private rooms with enhanced amenities. 

The cost increases with the level of comfort and privacy desired, affecting the overall affordability of treatment.

Treatment Modalities

The choice of treatment modalities, including surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy, contributes significantly to treatment costs. 

Advanced technologies, innovative therapies, and specialized drugs may entail higher expenses, particularly in the case of targeted and immunotherapy agents.

Diagnostic Tests and Imaging

Diagnostic tests and imaging studies, such as biopsies, mammograms, MRIs, and PET scans, are essential for accurate cancer diagnosis, staging, and monitoring treatment response. 

The frequency and complexity of these tests can vary based on individual patient needs, impacting overall treatment costs.

Additional Supportive Care

Ancillary services and supportive care, including consultations with oncologists, surgeons, and other specialists, as well as palliative care, psychological counseling, and rehabilitation services, contribute to treatment expenses. 

These services aim to improve patient outcomes, alleviate symptoms, and enhance quality of life throughout the treatment journey.

Medication Costs

The cost of medications, including chemotherapy drugs, hormone therapies, targeted therapies, and supportive medications for managing side effects, constitutes a significant portion of treatment expenses. 

Access to affordable generic medications and government subsidy programs can mitigate medication costs for patients.

Also Read: Breast Cancer Treatment Cost in India


Breast cancer treatment in India, like elsewhere, is a multifaceted journey influenced by various factors, including stage, tumor characteristics, and individual health considerations. From the early stages where localized treatments like surgery and radiation are primary to the more advanced stages requiring a combination of systemic therapies, the goal remains constant: to eradicate cancer, alleviate symptoms, and improve quality of life.

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