The therapeutic options for patients with noninvasive or invasive breast cancer are complex and varied. In many situations, the patient and physician have the responsibility to jointly explore and ultimately select the most appropriate option from among the available alternatives. With rare exception, the evaluation, treatment, and follow-up recommendations contained within these guidelines were based largely on the results of past and present clinical trials. However, there is not a single clinical situation in which the treatment of breast cancer has been optimized with respect to either maximizing cure or minimizing toxicity and disfigurement. Therefore, patient and physician participation in prospective clinical trials allows patients not only to receive state-of-the-art cancer treatment but also to contribute to the improvement of treatment of future patients.