If the breast cancer has advanced to other parts of the body, it can cause pain by pressing on certain nerves or organs. Although anti-cancer treatments such as surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hormonal therapy are no longer are likely to entirely eradicate the cancer, they can be used to shrink or remove any tumors that are causing pain. For example:
- Surgery may be done to remove part or all of a tumor that is causing pain.
- Local or whole-body radiation therapy can help to reduce the size of a tumor or tumors that are causing pain. Pain from bone metastases may be treated with the injection of a radioactive agent that is absorbed by the bones and shrinks the cancer, helping to relieve pain. Yet another option in some cases is radiofrequency ablation, a minimally invasive procedure that places a needle electrode through the skin to heat tumors and destroy them.
- Chemotherapy or hormonal therapy may no longer be able to eliminate the breast cancer, but they may be useful for pain relief.