Carcinoma of the breast is the commonest malignant disease in women and mortality rate from it has not fallen over the last 70 years. The many alternative forms of treatment include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormone therapy, used singly and/or in combination. The approach to therapy mainly depends on the extent of disease when treatment is first started, that is whether it is local, tumour being confined to the breast and its lymphatics, or disseminated, where distant metastases are present. It is difficult to know when this distinction is justly made because in many patients with apparently local disease there is occult disease elsewhere. The choice of therapy is also very dependent on the views of the specialists involved. Because there have been so many different approaches to, and forms of, treatment, detailed comparison of results is difficult.
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