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Treatment

 
Treatment

Chapter: 6 - Treatment

Subchapter: 8 - Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a treatment method that uses a combination of drugs to either destroy cancer cells or slow cancer cell growth. Cytotoxic drugs (meaning “toxic to cells”) are taken intravenously (through the bloodstream) or orally. Chemotherapy is a systemic therapy, meaning that the drugs travel in the bloodstream through the entire body.

Chemotherapy is offered to most patients based on several factors: tumor type, grade, size, receptor status, lymph node involvement and the risk for spread elsewhere. Your medical team will work to select the right blend of chemotherapy drugs to suppress each stage of the cancer cells’ growth. Chemotherapy is commonly prescribed along with other treatment methods such as hormonal and targeted therapies. It can also be used to shrink a tumor before surgery for easier and safer removal.

If you receive chemotherapy, your doctor will administer it in short courses, with several weeks in between to allow your normal cells to recover. This treatment period can be a challenging time emotionally and physically; it is important for you to develop a support team of family or friends that can help comfort and encourage you in this time.

Related Questions

  • Kim George Profile

    I am 40 yrs old and was diagnosed with IDC stage 3 in Aug. I have completed 4 rounds of neoadjuvant A/C and 12 rounds of Taxol. has any ever heard of having chemotherapy and radiation as their only treatment and not having surgery at all?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 5 years 13 answers
    • View all 13 answers
    • Betti A Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      You say there was lymph node involvement that means the cancer has already gotten outside of the breast. Sure, chemo. can shrink the tumor but from what I've read they will do that to make the size of the tumor more manageable and may not require a mastectomy but perhaps a partial one or even a...

      more

      You say there was lymph node involvement that means the cancer has already gotten outside of the breast. Sure, chemo. can shrink the tumor but from what I've read they will do that to make the size of the tumor more manageable and may not require a mastectomy but perhaps a partial one or even a lumpectomy. I was graded a 1c and elected a mastectomy because I had 2 areas right next to each other and my surgeon couldn't guarantee getting everything, leaving me clean margins, and much breast tissue afterwards. The pathologist also found a 3rd cancer in doing his exam so I was better off and found out, too, my surgeon said a lumpectomy would have been very disfiguring. Do seek another opinion.

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Kim,
      I am wondering if this question is coming from you and not part of the treatment plan from your oncologist? It this is your doctor's recommendation, it just sounds odd.
      I have never heard of a stage 3 IDC that didn't have surgery involved. I was a stage 2B and had a mastectomy. Part of...

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      Kim,
      I am wondering if this question is coming from you and not part of the treatment plan from your oncologist? It this is your doctor's recommendation, it just sounds odd.
      I have never heard of a stage 3 IDC that didn't have surgery involved. I was a stage 2B and had a mastectomy. Part of the surgery was to remove 5 sentinal nodes. When I woke up from surgery, my surgeon said "It looks like those 5 nodes had no cancer." BUT... when the pathology report came back, I had microscopic cancer in one node.
      I have heard when chemo is done at the beginning to shrink large tumors, when it is successful, they can get some pretty dramatic results... but to not have surgery.... I just haven't heard of it. I would be getting a second opinion if this was your doctor's treatment plan. Keep in mind we are not doctor's here but this worries me. We have to be our own best advocates. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
  • vicky kayley Profile

    Was originally diagnosed er positive and plan was chemo radiation and tamoxifen, then 3 weeks ago was told I didn't need rads, now they changed their mind I need rads but not tamoxifen, am gutted

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 7 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Evelyn Heilbrunn Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      Get a second opinion, and a third one if you still aren't comfortable! The back and forth is a little disconcerting.

      Comment
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Very confusing............ Usually ER positive would require Tamoxafen I can't understand why they wouldn't want you to have it. I agree with Marianne with this much confusion going on you should seek a second opinion.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    I have stage 1 1.8 cm grade 2 no node chemo cef . 1 month after chemo i have bone pain and the last tumor marker is 26.4 .the normal is 25. Oncologist say i need ct scan but I am scared to do it. Is there some one like me?

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 1 Patient
    about 7 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Anonymous,
      The test, as Mary described is an easy one. We, are ALL like you! We certainly can all understand how you would be worried about what this test might find. You need to have this test because if the treatment you have had isn't working, your doctor needs to change course, and select...

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      Anonymous,
      The test, as Mary described is an easy one. We, are ALL like you! We certainly can all understand how you would be worried about what this test might find. You need to have this test because if the treatment you have had isn't working, your doctor needs to change course, and select another. This is the time when you need to muster all of your courage and march into that CT scan. The sooner, the better. Remember, this all could be just a glitch and you will find you are ok. Be brave and courageous because you have to get this test done ASAP. Remember, there are a ba-zillion of us out here who completely understand the fear you have. Hang in there, and prayers for strength.
      Take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • Mary Chase Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Are you worried about having a CT? A CT is an easy test and not as involved as an MRI. They. Ay have you I gets some contrast- not the best testing stuff but definitely tolerable. Then during the test they may also give you contrast via IV. All you do is lay on the table. Painless and over quickly.

      Comment
  • Summer Lynch Profile

    Anyone have to go through another round of chemo. It's been 2 weeks after my double mastectomy and found out I have to do adriamycin cytoxin

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 3 answers
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Yes, I did Summer. I was diagnosed last May and went through Adriamycin/Cytoxin then Taxol. I had my double mastectomy three weeks later. They found 13/15 lymph nodes that were positive with two that had broken outside the node. Due to this finding my Onc. Strongly suggested that I have another...

      more

      Yes, I did Summer. I was diagnosed last May and went through Adriamycin/Cytoxin then Taxol. I had my double mastectomy three weeks later. They found 13/15 lymph nodes that were positive with two that had broken outside the node. Due to this finding my Onc. Strongly suggested that I have another round of chemo before I could have radiation. So....I went through 8 treatments of Gemzar/Carboplatin beginning 3 weeks after my surgery. It was tiring, but I'm happy to say I had my last chemo last week. :). I will have another PET scan on Monday and praying for good results so I can move on to the next step. I was upset & disappointed that I had to have more chemo....but in the end, I'm glad I did...knowing I did all I could do to get better. I'll be thinking of you. :). Hang in there!

      2 comments
    • Kristine Fonseca Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2A Patient

      Hi Summer, I am currently in chemo therapy. I have Adriamycin, Cytoxin and Taxotere every 3 weeks. I have had 3 out of 6.rounds. I have been fortunate not to have experienced any major side effects other than fatique and total hair loss but by the end of the first week after chemo i am feeling...

      more

      Hi Summer, I am currently in chemo therapy. I have Adriamycin, Cytoxin and Taxotere every 3 weeks. I have had 3 out of 6.rounds. I have been fortunate not to have experienced any major side effects other than fatique and total hair loss but by the end of the first week after chemo i am feeling better. One thing i have found very helpful is to make sure i am very hydrated before and after a chemo treatment. I wish you all the best, and we will get through this!

      2 comments

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