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Are There Different Types Of Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer

Physical Emotional And Social Effects Of Cancer

Breast Cancer Adjuvant Chemotherapy Patient Types

In general, cancer and its treatment cause physical symptoms and side effects, as well as emotional, social, and financial effects. Managing all of these effects is called palliative care or supportive care. It is an important part of your care that is included along with treatments intended to slow, stop, or eliminate the cancer.

Palliative care focuses on improving how you feel during treatment by managing symptoms and supporting patients and their families with other, non-medical needs. Any person, regardless of age or type and stage of cancer, may receive this type of care. And it often works best when it is started right after a cancer diagnosis. People who receive palliative care along with treatment for the cancer often have less severe symptoms, better quality of life, and report that they are more satisfied with treatment.

Palliative treatments vary widely and often include medication, nutritional changes, relaxation techniques, emotional and spiritual support, and other therapies. You may also receive palliative treatments similar to those meant to get rid of the cancer, such as chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation therapy.

  • Music therapy, meditation, stress management, and yoga for reducing anxiety and stress.

  • Meditation, relaxation, yoga, massage, and music therapy for depression and to improve other mood problems.

  • Meditation and yoga to improve general quality of life.

  • Acupressure and acupuncture to help with nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy.

For Metastatic Breast Cancer

Chemo can be used as the main treatment for women whose cancer has spread outside the breast and underarm area to distant organs like the liver or lungs. Chemo can be given either when breast cancer is diagnosed or after initial treatments. The length of treatment depends on how well the chemo is working and how well you tolerate it.

Treatment Of Breast Cancer Stages I

The stage of your breast cancer is an important factor in making decisions about your treatment.

Most women with breast cancer in stages I, II, or III are treated with surgery, often followed by radiation therapy. Many women also get some kind of drug therapy. In general, the more the breast cancer has spread, the more treatment you will likely need. But your treatment options are affected by your personal preferences and other information about your breast cancer, such as:

  • If the cancer cells contain hormone receptors. That is, if the cancer is estrogen receptor -positive or progesterone receptor -positive.
  • If the cancer cells have large amounts of the HER2 protein
  • How fast the cancer is growing
  • Your overall health
  • If you have gone through menopause or not

Talk with your doctor about how these factors can affect your treatment options.

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Before You Start Chemotherapy

You need to have blood tests to make sure its safe to start treatment. You have these either a few days before or on the day you start treatment. You have blood tests before each round or cycle of treatment.

The pharmacists make chemotherapy for each person individually. They do this once your blood test results have come through. Its worked out based on your weight, height and general health.

What Is Stage 3 Breast Cancer

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Also known as locally advanced breast cancer, the tumor in this stage of breast cancer is more than 2 inches in diameter across and the cancer is extensive in the underarm lymph nodes or has spread to other lymph nodes or tissues near the breast. Stage 3 breast cancer is a more advanced form of invasive breast cancer. At this stage, the cancer cells have usually not spread to more distant sites in the body, but they are present in several axillary lymph nodes. The tumor may also be quite large at this stage, possibly extending to the chest wall or the skin of the breast.

Stage 3 breast cancer is divided into three categories:

Stage 3A: One of the following is true:

  • No tumor is found in the breast, but cancer is present in axillary lymph nodes that are attached to either other or other structures, or cancer may be found in the lymph nodes near the breast bone, or
  • The tumor is 2 cm or smaller. Cancer has spread to axillary lymph nodes that are attached to each other or other structures, or cancer may have spread to lymph nodes near the breastbone, or
  • The tumor is 2 cm to 4 cm in size. Cancer has spread to axillary lymph nodes that are attached to each other or to other structures, or cancer may have spread to lymph nodes near the breast bone, or
  • The tumor is larger than 5 cm. Cancer has spread to axillary lymph nodes that may be attached to each other or to other structures, or cancer may have spread to lymph nodes near the breastbone.

Stage 3C:

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What Are The Different Types Of Chemotherapy

Types of Chemotherapy Drugs

Chemotherapy is a treatment for cancer that kills cancer cells through a variety of mechanisms such as damaging the genetic material of the cells or interfering with the growth and division of the cells. Based on these different modes of action, there are several broad categories of chemotherapy drugs. These include alkylating agents, plant alkaloids , anti-metabolites, anti-tumor antibiotics, corticosteroids, and miscellaneous other drugs.

Alkylating agents are the most common type of chemotherapy. They function by damaging the DNA in cancer cells and stopping their division. While alkylating agents can be used to treat most types of cancer, they are best at treating slow-growing cancers. Some examples include breast cancer, ovarian cancer, lung cancer, multiple myeloma sarcoma, and Hodgkins disease. High doses of alkylating agents can damage bone marrow, leading to another cancer called leukemia. Some common side effects of these drugs are low blood cell counts, anemia , hair loss, intestinal damage, cessation of menstruation, and impaired sperm production. Some drugs in the alkylating agents class are chlorambucil, cyclophosphamide, thiotepa, and busulfan.

Some miscellaneous chemotherapy drugs that do not fall into any of the previously mentioned categories include hydroxyurea, mitotane, pegaspargase, estramustine, and bexarotene.

Using Single Or Multiple Anti

When your cancer treatment team designs a treatment plan for you, they may recommend a single chemotherapy drug or have you take more than one drug at the same time. Using more than one drug to treat cancer is called combination chemotherapy.

Your treatment team will keep in mind the way each drug works and its side effects to make sure the drugs will work well together. The treatment team designs your treatment plan by taking into account the type of cancer, its stage and multiple other factors.

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Will The Nhs Fund An Unlicensed Medicine

It’s possible for your doctor to prescribe a medicine outside the uses it’s licensed for if they’re willing to take personal responsibility for this ‘off-licence’ use of treatment.

Your local clinical commissioning group may need to be involved, as it would have to decide whether to support your doctor’s decision and pay for the medicine from NHS budgets.

Page last reviewed: 28 October 2019 Next review due: 28 October 2022

Menstrual And Fertility Changes

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If you have a menstrual cycle, you may find that it changes under chemotherapy. Some people start menopause after completing chemotherapy. This becomes more common the closer you are to menopause, which typically starts around the age of 51.

Periods can return after treatment is completed, but this often depends on your age and what kind of chemotherapy drugs were used. Typically, the younger you are, the greater the chance is that your period will return and youll produce fertile eggs.

Talk with your doctor if you hope to get pregnant after chemotherapy. They can help design a treatment plan that least affects your fertility.

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Why Is Chemotherapy Used For Breast Cancer

Not everyone who has breast cancer needs chemotherapy. Depending on the cancer stage, your oncologist may recommend chemotherapy:

  • Before surgery : You may have chemotherapy to shrink a tumor. This option could make it possible to have a less-extensive surgery. It may also allow healthcare providers to discover more about the biology of the cancer itself by how it responds to chemotherapy.
  • After surgery : Sometimes, cancerous cells remain in your body but dont show up on imaging tests. Your healthcare provider may recommend chemotherapy after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells. This treatment can also reduce the risk of the cancer from returning .
  • For advanced cancer: If breast cancer has spread to other parts of your body , chemotherapy may be the main treatment.
  • For IBC: Inflammatory breast cancer doesnt have a lump that a surgeon can remove easily. Chemotherapy often is the first treatment for IBC.

What Are The Different Types Of Chemotherapy Drugs Used For Breast Cancer Treatment And Their Potential Side Effects

As each person’s individual medical profile and diagnosis is different, so is his or her reaction to treatment. Side effects may be severe, mild, or absent. Be sure to discuss with your cancer care team any or all possible side effects of treatment before the treatment begins. Most side effects go away once treatment is stopped. These are some of the drugs most commonly used to treat breast cancer:

All of these drugs can cause changes in your blood counts that can make you feel very tired and make it harder for you to fight infections. Again, talk to your health care team about what side effects you should watch for and which, if any, need to be reported to the doctor right away. In most cases, there are things that can be done to help control or even prevent chemotherapy side effects.

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Changes In Bowel Habit

Chemotherapy drugs and the anti-nausea drugs used with them may cause diarrhoea or constipation. Constipation is an annoyance but can usually be easily managed with laxatives. Diarrhoea is sometimes an important warning sign that develops with particular chemotherapy drugs. If you get diarrhoea you should let your oncologist or nurse know. You will be given specific advice about how to manage it.

Overview Of The Types Of Chemotherapy Used To Treat Cancer

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There are many different types of chemotherapy drugs that are used to treat cancer. Often, patients receive more than one chemotherapy drug. The chemistry of these drugs, the way they are prescribed and administered, their role in treating certain types of cancer, and the side effects they can have are very different.

In this article, well discuss the different types of chemotherapy drugs, their side effects, and the types of cancer they treat.

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Are There Ways To Prevent Hair Loss With Chemotherapy

Not everyone loses hair when receiving chemotherapy, but many people do. Some peoples hair only thins. Others lose the majority or all of their hair.

Using a cold cap can reduce hair loss. Cold caps cool your scalp before, during and after chemotherapy treatment. Cooling tightens the blood vessels in your scalp, potentially reducing how much chemotherapy goes to your hair follicles.

People may choose to wear a wig as a result of hair loss. Some private insurance companies may help cover wig costs if your doctor prescribes a cranial prosthesis or hair prosthesis. Medicare Parts A and B do not cover wigs, but the costs may be tax-deductible.

Which Types Of Cancer Does Chemotherapy Treat

Chemotherapy is used to treat many types of cancer. For some people, chemotherapy may be the only treatment you receive. But most often, you will have chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. The types of treatment that you need depend on the type of cancer you have, if it has spread and where, and if you have other health problems.

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How Do You Get Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer

You get chemotherapy as a pill or in a vein daily, weekly, or every 2-4 weeks. You may get one drug or a combination of them. Your treatment plan is designed for your particular situation.

If your veins are hard to find, you may get a catheter in a large vein. These devices are inserted by a surgeon or radiologist and have an opening to the skin or a port under the skin, allowing chemotherapy medications to be given. They can also be used to give fluids or take blood samples. Once chemotherapy is finished, your catheter will be removed.

Possible Side Effects Of Chemo For Breast Cancer

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Chemo drugs can cause side effects, depending on the type and dose of drugs given, and the length of treatment. Some of the most common possible side effects include:

  • Hair loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Hot flashes and/or vaginal dryness from menopause caused by chemo
  • Nerve damage

Chemo can also affect the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow, which can lead to:

  • Increased chance of infections
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Fatigue

These side effects usually go away after treatment is finished. There are often ways to lessen these side effects. For example, drugs can be given to help prevent or reduce nausea and vomiting.

Other side effects are also possible. Some of these are more common with certain chemo drugs. Ask your cancer care team about the possible side effects of the specific drugs you are getting.

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What Are The Chances Of Breast Cancer Recurrence After Treatment For Stage 2 Breast Cancer

In women who have breast-conserving treatment, the chance of recurrence is about 3-15% in 10 years, depending on tumor characteristics and margins. Distant recurrence in those who had mastectomy is most influenced by axillary lymph node involvement. When axillary lymph nodes are not cancerous, the recurrence rate is 6% in 5 years. When axillary lymph nodes are cancerous, the recurrence rate is 23% in 5 years with mastectomy but no radiation.

Chemotherapy Regimens For Early

At some point, your medical oncologist will recommend a chemotherapy plan for you. Also called a chemotherapy regimen, the plan will have important details about your treatment, including:

  • which drugs youre receiving
  • the order in which you receive them
  • the amount of each drug
  • how often and how long you will need chemotherapy

Most women with early-stage breast cancer receive chemotherapy for approximately three to six months. Theres time in between treatments to allow your body to recover. If you are receiving targeted therapy for early HER2-positive breast cancer, treatment could last up to a year.

For some people, doctors may recommend a dose-dense chemotherapy regimen. Dose-dense chemotherapy means there is less time between treatments. You will not need to have a larger dose of chemotherapy.

Research has shown that dose-dense chemotherapy can improve survival and lower the risk of the breast cancer coming back compared to a traditional chemotherapy schedule. Dose-dense chemotherapy does not result in more side effects.

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Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes

Since the administration of most chemotherapy agents occurs at infusion centers, nursing and allied health professionals play a significant role in taking care of patients on such drugs. They are usually the first point of contact for the patients. All health professionals need to understand the type of drug in use and its associated side effects for the patient. Close monitoring and early recognition of side effects can help prevent significant morbidity and mortality. For example, patients with a history of anemia, thrombocytopenia should avoid the use of NSAIDs. Intra-muscular injections and rectal suppositories should be avoided in such patients.

Thorough buccal cavity assessments and avoidance of commercial mouthwashes in patients with mucositis can help decrease patient discomfort. Many chemotherapeutic agents have specific known side effects that are minimizable prophylactically. For instance, following folate inhibitors such as methotrexate with folate analogs such as leucovorin help reduce bone marrow suppression severity. This concept applies to general chemotherapy side effects. For example, oral mucositis is a common chemotherapy side effect, which can be minimized by administering Palifermin, a keratinocyte growth factor that helps reduce mucosal endothelial cell damage.

What Happens During Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer

Which treatments are used for breast cancer?

Most people receive chemotherapy for breast cancer through one of their veins . You may receive chemotherapy as one short injection or as an infusion. Infusions last longer and usually take place in a hospital or specialized infusion center.

When you get to the infusion center, your nurse administers your chemotherapy drugs and any additional medications you need. For example, you may also receive an anti-nausea medication before the chemotherapy drugs.

During the infusion:

  • Your nurse accesses your CVC or starts an IV.
  • You may read, watch television or visit with others during your treatment. Chemotherapy infusions may last a few hours or more.
  • Your nurse flushes the IV line or CVC with a saline solution and removes it.
  • You wait in a recovery area for about 30 minutes to make sure you do not have a negative reaction to treatment.
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    Where You Have Chemotherapy

    You usually have treatment into your bloodstream at the cancer day clinic. You might sit in a chair for a few hours so its a good idea to take things in to do. For example, newspapers, books or electronic devices can all help to pass the time. You can usually bring a friend or family member with you.

    You have some types of chemotherapy over several days. You might be able to have some drugs through a small portable pump that you take home.

    For some types of chemotherapy you have to stay in a hospital ward. This could be overnight or for a couple of days.

    Clare Disney : Hello, my name is Clare and this is a cancer day unit.

    So when you arrive and youve reported into with the receptionist, one of the nurses will call you through when your treatment is ready, sit you down and go through all the treatment with you.

    Morning, Iris. My name is Clare. I am the nurse who is going to be looking after you today. Were going to start by putting a cannula in the back of your hand and giving you some anti sickness medication. And then I am going to come back to you and talk through the chemotherapy with you and the possible side effects you may experience throughout your treatment. Is that okay?

    Each chemotherapy is made up for each individual patient, depending on the type of cancer they have and where it is and depending their height, weight and blood results.


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