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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

  • Morgan Moser Profile

    I'm having sentinel node surgery on Tuesday and then chemo. (because the lump is 4.5cm) Are there any other options?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 6 years 6 answers
    • View all 6 answers
    • Erin Timlin Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      Morgan, I had a tumor about 3.5 cm and they knew I had positive nodes through biopsy. I started with chemo (my choice) and then did surgery. The rationale was, as Sharon suggested, to see if the tumor would shrink, thus giving me another option outside of mastectomy. In the end, I had a total...

      more

      Morgan, I had a tumor about 3.5 cm and they knew I had positive nodes through biopsy. I started with chemo (my choice) and then did surgery. The rationale was, as Sharon suggested, to see if the tumor would shrink, thus giving me another option outside of mastectomy. In the end, I had a total response to the chemo. Translation=the tumor was completely gone and the nodes tested clean. I then had breast conservation surgery (area of tissue was removed and the rest was 'rearranged,' if you will, to reshape the breast) and had 14 nodes removed. It seems odd that they would go ahead and remove nodes, which was probably the mor painful part of any surgery for me, BEFORE the chemo. As usual, I agree with Sharon! You might want to call tomorrow and tell them you'd like some more information, rationale, and the chance to get a second opinion. Good luck!

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Morgan,
      My advice is a second opinion. So as I understand your surgery, they are just taking out the sentinel nodes and not the lumpectomy or mastectomy until a later date? I wish I had a treatment to suggest but only being a fellow breast cancer survivor I don't know. The only other...

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      Morgan,
      My advice is a second opinion. So as I understand your surgery, they are just taking out the sentinel nodes and not the lumpectomy or mastectomy until a later date? I wish I had a treatment to suggest but only being a fellow breast cancer survivor I don't know. The only other treatment I have heard of is to have a course of chemo treatment before having surgery to see if your tumor will shrink. Of course, they are looking for cell in your sentinel nodes. I ended up having cells in one of my 5 sentinel nodes but it didn't change my treatment plan. I was slated for chemo. anyway. It just changed my stage from 2A to 2B. Morgan, if you aren't settled with your treatment, tell your doctor. You need to chew this over with your surgeon a bit more. Hang in there and take care, Sharon

      1 comment
  • Goma Rai Profile

    hi... May I know if anyone is IDC breast cancer Er and Pr positive, stage 3, but refused to take tamoxifen??? thnks

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 4 years 9 answers
    • View all 9 answers
    • Gillian Ashworth Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I was on the fence about tamoxifen (as I was with all treatment). Then I spent a lot of time researching it and realized the benefits heavily outweigh the risk. I've been taking it for two months...I don't have any side effects. I was stage one, 90% er. I heard from any ladies who have used it...

      more

      I was on the fence about tamoxifen (as I was with all treatment). Then I spent a lot of time researching it and realized the benefits heavily outweigh the risk. I've been taking it for two months...I don't have any side effects. I was stage one, 90% er. I heard from any ladies who have used it for years and don't have any issues. I agree with what Sharon said...going through treatment is difficult, tamoxifen decreases the risk of ever having to do it agajn. Good luck to you!

      Comment
    • Karen G Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2A Patient

      I took it with very little side effects. Unfortunately it didn't work for me.

      4 comments
  • Thumb avatar default

    I have had a reoccurrance of breast cancer. I was put on taxotere this time for 6 mos. I am going on 6th tx. I went thru 12 treaments of taxol a yr ago with no major problems. Has anyone who has been on just taxotere in the past experience nail problems?

    Asked by anonymous

    Survivor since 2010
    about 6 years 9 answers
    • View all 9 answers
    • Isabel Souchet Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2010

      I'm sorry to hear you had a recurrence , I did have nail problems from the taxotere. I've been out of treatment over a year and a half n my nails are still short, haven't grown

      Comment
    • Jessica Fisher Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 3A Patient

      My finger and toe nails have fallen off I just finished 12 weeks of taxotere

      1 comment
  • Judy Carr Profile

    Diagnosed with breast cancer yesterday - how do I tell my kids?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 6 years 7 answers
    • View all 7 answers
    • lynda dew Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      That was the hardest thing about any of it. We sat our two children down. We named two of our friends who went through the same thing. We told them that I went to the doctor and we had some news. My daughter started to cry and sobbed "no, no". I held her and reminded her that those two women...

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      That was the hardest thing about any of it. We sat our two children down. We named two of our friends who went through the same thing. We told them that I went to the doctor and we had some news. My daughter started to cry and sobbed "no, no". I held her and reminded her that those two women fought hard and they won the fight and I was going to do the same. My daughter said "you don't even look sick". I explained that that day was the sickest I was going to be. I told them that when I looked tired, lost my hair and looked really sick to say a prayer and thank God for chemo because the worse I looked, meant that it was working. Five months of chemo, lumpectomy, bi-later mastectomies and six weeks of radiation, I am in full remission and plan on being here for a long time. Tell your kids, comfort them, be strong and keep them involved. They won't be scared if you are honest (what they can handle at their age).. Good luck:). I'm praying for you.

      1 comment
    • Evelyn Heilbrunn Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      Ah, Judy. I've been there, twice. You don't mention how old your kids are. The first time, mine were 7, 5, and 5 (twins). The second time they were 18, 16, and 16. The words I used were different each time, but the message was the same. I have great doctors, I trust them, and they tell me...

      more

      Ah, Judy. I've been there, twice. You don't mention how old your kids are. The first time, mine were 7, 5, and 5 (twins). The second time they were 18, 16, and 16. The words I used were different each time, but the message was the same. I have great doctors, I trust them, and they tell me that they're going to give me the best treatment they can so I can get better. I never made any promises, but I gave them as much hope as I could. I'm on the other side of it all now, having finished chemo in March. I'm alive and well. No matter what age your kids are, they understand more than you think -- in their own way. They take their cues from you (and your partner, if you have one). Despite my own fear I tried my best to stay positive for them. They wanted frequent reassurance that everything was going to be ok. While I didn't quite go that far, I consistently told them that I was getting the best care I could so I could get well.
      It's very hard, I know. Best of luck and please send any other questions you might have.

      Comment

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