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Can Breast Cancer Spread While On Chemo

What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider

Many breast cancer patients can skip chemo, study finds

You may want to ask your provider:

  • What type of breast cancer recurrence do I have?
  • Has the cancer spread outside the breast?
  • What stage is the breast cancer?
  • What is the best treatment for this type of breast cancer?
  • What are the treatment risks and side effects?
  • Should I look out for signs of complications?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Most breast cancer recurrences respond well to treatments. You may be able to try new drugs or combination therapies in development in clinical trials. Your healthcare provider can discuss the best treatment option based on your unique situation.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/24/2021.

References

Exercise And Secondary Breast Cancer In The Lung

Some people with secondary breast cancer in the lung have no symptoms while others have a combination of pain, sickness, loss of appetite, hiccups, tiredness and fatigue. While physical activity may help reduce some symptoms its important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard. Gentle, regular activity, such as walking, is often most effective.

If youre currently having treatment you may need to exercise at a slightly lower level. Stop if it hurts or feels like youre working too hard.

When choosing your exercise, try to focus on aerobic activities such as walking, swimming or cycling. Activities such as dancing and gardening can also be beneficial. You could also include some light toning or conditioning exercises such as stretching or low-impact yoga. The most important thing is to choose something you can safely enjoy.

Does Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy Spread Cancer

So lets take a look at the study itself , which was published in a Science journal, Science Translational Medicine by a group at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Reading the abstract, I quickly realizedsurprise! surprise!that the findings were considerably more nuanced and interesting than Adams, Wark, and Jaxen presented. I also quickly realized that the purpose of the study was to identify potential problems with how neoadjuvant works in order to find strategies to make it work better. Of course, doing research to make existing therapies better is complex, and the authors noted that increasing tumor cell dissemination could diminish the clinical benefit of neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Note the distinction. It is knownsorry, couldnt resist a Game of Thrones reference given that as I write this the season seven premiere is only a few hours awayfrom numerous studies that neoadjuvant chemotherapy produces a survival advantage for breast cancer patients in addition to the advantages it produces in making inoperable tumors operable or making it possible for women who would otherwise lose their breast to preserve it. Tumor cell dissemination as a result of chemotherapy reduces, not eliminates, that benefit, and it certainly does not make cancer spread in such a way that neoadjuvant chemotherapy is worse than no chemotherapy. Yet thats what the cancer quacks strongly imply.

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How Long Can Chemo Take To Work

Chemotherapy is usually given in cycles over a period of weeks, months, or even years. Your exact timeline will depend on the type of cancer you have, the kinds of chemotherapy drugs used, and how the cancer responds to those drugs.

Other factors that affect your personal timeline include:

  • stage at diagnosis
  • previous cancer treatments, as cancer often responds best the first time and some treatments are too harsh to be repeated
  • other potential treatment options
  • age and overall health, including other medical conditions
  • how well youre coping with side effects

Along the way, the timeline may have to be adjusted due to:

  • low blood counts
  • adverse effects to major organs
  • severe side effects

Depending on your particular circumstances, chemotherapy may be given before, after, or in conjunction with other treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy, and targeted therapies.

Hormone Therapy For Premenopausal Women

10 Common Chemo Drugs and What They Do

For premenopausal women with metastatic breast cancer, hormone therapy almost always begins with ovarian suppression and either an aromatase inhibitor, tamoxifen or other hormone therapy drug.

Ovarian suppression lowers hormone levels in the body so the tumor cant get the estrogen it needs to grow. This may involve surgery to remove the ovaries or, more often, drugs to stop the ovaries from producing hormones.

Combining ovarian suppression and a hormone therapy drug improves survival over either treatment alone .

If breast cancer progressed during past treatment with a hormone therapy drug, the same hormone therapy drug may not be an option for treatment.

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How Fast Can Breast Cancer Spread

Metastasis occurs when breast cancer cells begin to grow in another body part.

It is hard to say exactly how quickly breast cancer can grow, including the timeframe, as the disease affects each person differently.

Cancer occurs due to mutations in human cells. Mutations do not follow normal, predictable patterns of cell division, so it is difficult to predict the progression.

Tumors appear when damaged cells replicate over and over to form a clump of abnormal cells. Breast cancer cells can break off and move through the lymph or blood vessels to other areas of the body.

If breast cancer cells begin to grow in another body part, this is called metastasis. Breast cancer is most likely to metastasize to the lymph nodes, lungs, and bones.

Regardless of the location of the new tumor, doctors still consider it to be breast cancer.

Breast cancer growth and its chances of spreading depend on the following:

The Types Of Radiotherapy

The type of radiotherapy you have will depend on the type of breast cancer and the type of surgery you have. Some women may not need to have radiotherapy at all.

Types of radiotherapy include:

  • breast radiotherapy after breast-conserving surgery, radiation is applied to the whole of the remaining breast tissue
  • chest-wall radiotherapy after a mastectomy, radiotherapy is applied to the chest wall
  • breast boost some women may be offered a boost of high-dose radiotherapy in the area where the cancer was removed however, this may affect the appearance of your breast, particularly if you have large breasts, and can sometimes have other side effects, including hardening of breast tissue
  • radiotherapy to the lymph nodes where radiotherapy is aimed at the armpit and the surrounding area to kill any cancer that may be in the lymph nodes

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How Long Does Chemotherapy Take For Breast Cancer

Typically, you receive chemotherapy in cycles. You may receive chemo every week or every two, three or even four weeks. Cycles are usually two to three treatments long. Each cycle includes a rest period to allow your body to recover. For example, you may have the same treatment every Monday for three weeks. Then you have an extra week to recover before repeating the cycle. Many people have multiple treatment cycles in a row. Treatment may last three to six months.

Exercise And Secondary Breast Cancer In The Liver

Chemotherapy could cause cancer to SPREAD and grow back even more aggressive, new study

Some people with secondary breast cancer in the liver have no symptoms while others have a combination of pain, sickness, loss of appetite, hiccups, tiredness and fatigue. While physical activity may help reduce some symptoms its important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard. Gentle, regular activity, such as walking, is often most effective.

If youre currently having treatment you may need to exercise at a slightly lower level. Stop straight away if it hurts or feels like youre working too hard.

When choosing your exercise, try to focus on aerobic activities such as walking, swimming or cycling. Activities such as dancing and gardening can also be beneficial. You could also include some light toning or conditioning exercises such as stretching or low-impact yoga. The most important thing is to choose something you can safely enjoy.

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What Is The Treatment For Triple

Chemotherapy.Chemotherapy is almost always called for, Sun says. Chemo can downstage tumors . While Sun says the chemotherapy for triple-negative breast cancer can be intense, she adds that regimen can be tailored to the individual and adjusted for older or frailer patients.

In those cases where we get complete response, we know we gave you the right medicine and your prognosis is good, Sun says.

Surgery can remove more of the tumor. Surgery for triple-negative breast cancer does not always have to be a mastectomy, Sun says. Effective chemotherapy done first opens up the possibility of less-invasive surgical options that are less of an ordeal for the patient. If the tumor is small enough after chemo, outpatient procedures or a lumpectomy may be possible.

Surgical samples of the cancerous tissues taken from surgery can provide more information on the cancer and how it is behaving so chemotherapy can be tailored accordingly.

Radiation therapy involves the use beams of radiation to destroy cancer cells, using various techniques to prevent damage to healthy surrounding tissue.

Medical treatments are being tested on triple-negative breast tumors in clinical trials.

Immunotherapy and PARP inhibitors are very exciting and theres lots of research going on, including here at Johns Hopkins, Sun says.

Effect Of Hormonal Changes On Breasts

As women develop from pre-puberty through puberty, pregnancy and to menopause, the breasts will be affected by a variety of fluctuations in hormones.

During puberty, hormones produced by the ovaries cause growth and development of the breast. After puberty, the hormones oestrogen and progesterone will change throughout a womans monthly menstrual cycle. This may cause women to have swollen or tender breasts at different times of the month.

During pregnancy the body will produce additional oestrogen and progesterone, which trigger further growth and development of the breast to prepare mothers for breastfeeding.

Around the time of menopause , the ovaries stop producing female hormones including oestrogen. Without oestrogen, the breast tissue decreases in size. After menopause , monthly menstrual periods stop.

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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.

How Does Cancer Spread Beyond The Breast

Two Chemo Drugs Linked to Breast Cancer Spread

Breast cancer can invade through nearby tissue, or spread through the body via the lymphatic system and blood.

  • Tissue: the cancer spreads from the original site and grows into nearby areas .
  • Lymphatic system: breast cancer cells break away from the original site and can enter nearby lymph tubes , grow in nearby lymph nodes or travel through lymph vessels to other parts of the body.
  • Blood: breast cancer cells break away from the original site and can enter and travel through nearby blood vessels to other parts of the body.

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Hormone Therapy For Postmenopausal Women

After menopause, hormone therapy for women with metastatic breast cancer can be an aromatase inhibitor, tamoxifen, fulvestrant or other hormone therapy drug.

If the first hormone therapy stops working and the cancer starts to grow again, a second hormone therapy can be used. If the second drug stops working, another can be tried.

Ovarian suppression isnt helpful for postmenopausal women because their ovaries have already stopped producing large amounts of estrogen.

Cancer Researchers Worry Immunotherapy May Hasten Growth Of Tumors In Some Patients

Depending on characteristics such as how many tumor cells, blood vessel cells, and immune cells are touching each other, the tumor microenvironment can nearly triple the chance that a common type of breast cancer that has reached the lymph nodes will also metastasize, Condeelis and colleagues showed in a 2014 study of 3,760 patients. The discovery of how the tumor microenvironment can fuel metastasis by whisking cancer cells into blood vessels so impressed Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, that he featured it in his blog.

The new study took the next logical step: Can the tumor microenvironment be altered so that it promotes or thwarts metastasis?

To find out, Einsteins George Karagiannis spent nearly three years experimenting with lab mice whose genetic mutations make them spontaneously develop breast cancer, as well as mice given human breast tumors. In both cases, paclitaxel changed the tumor microenvironments in three ways, all more conducive to metastasis: The microenvironment had more of the immune cells that carry cancer cells into blood vessels, it developed blood vessels that were more permeable to cancer cells, and the tumor cells became more mobile, practically bounding into those molecular Lyfts.

Pre-op chemo may have unwanted long-term consequences in some breast cancer patients, the Einstein researchers wrote.

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Tumors Backfire On Chemotherapy

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
Summary:
Chemotherapy is an effective treatment for breast cancer, yet some patients develop metastasis in spite of it. Researchers have now discovered that chemotherapy-treated mammary tumors produce small vesicles that may help them spread to other organs.

Some patients with breast cancer receive chemotherapy before the tumor is removed with surgery. This approach, called ‘neoadjuvant’ therapy, helps to reduce the size of the tumor to facilitate breast-conserving surgery, and can even eradicate the tumor, leaving few or no cancerous cells for the surgeon to remove. In those cases, the patients are very likely to remain cancer-free for life after surgery.

But not all tumors shrink under chemotherapy. If the tumor resists neoadjuvant therapy, there can be a higher risk of developing metastatic disease, meaning that the tumor will recur in other organs, such as bones or lungs. This could be due to cancerous cells that resist chemotherapy and spread to other organs while the primary tumor is being treated.

After being released from a chemotherapy-treated tumor, the exosomes circulate in the blood. Upon reaching the lung, the exosomes release their content, including annexin-A6. This stimulates the lung cells to release another protein, CCL2, which attracts immune cells called monocytes.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

How Is Tnbc Diagnosed

Study: Many breast cancer patients can skip chemo

Imaging tests are usually the first tests done:

  • Mammography, the most common screening tool for breast cancer, uses X-rays to take images of the breast and can uncover tumors that may be too small to feel.
  • MRI uses a magnet, radio waves and a computer to make detailed images of the breast with a much greater resolution than a mammogram offers.

The next step is a biopsy to remove a sample of suspicious cells from the breast to analyze them. Techniques include:

The appropriate type of biopsy for you depends on factors such as the size and location of the tumor. You may also have a biopsy of your underarm lymph nodes at the same time to see if any cancer is there.

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Cancers Linked To Treatment With Tamoxifen

Taking tamoxifen lowers the chance of hormone receptor-positive breast cancer coming back. It also lowers the risk of a second breast cancer. Tamoxifen does, however, increase the risk for uterine cancer . Still, the overall risk of uterine cancer in most women taking tamoxifen is low, and studies have shown that the benefits of this drug in treating breast cancer are greater than the risk of a second cancer.

Menstrual Changes And Fertility Issues

For younger women, changes in menstrual periods are a common side effect of chemo. Premature menopause and infertility may occur and could be permanent. If this happens, there is an increased risk of heart disease, bone loss, and osteoporosis. There are medicines that can treat or help prevent bone loss.

Even if your periods stop while you are on chemo, you may still be able to get pregnant. Getting pregnant while on chemo could lead to birth defects and interfere with treatment. If you have not gone through menopause before treatment and are sexually active, its important to discuss using birth control with your doctor. It is not a good idea for women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer to take hormonal birth control , so its important to talk with both your oncologist and your gynecologist about what options would be best for you. When women have finished treatment , they can safely go on to have children, but it’s not safe to get pregnant while being treated.

If you think you might want to have children after being treated for breast cancer, talk with your doctor soon after being diagnosed and before you start treatment. For some women, adding medicines, like monthly injections with a luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone analog, along with chemo, can help them have a successful pregnancy after cancer treatment. To learn more, see Female Fertility and Cancer.

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What You Need To Know

  • Triple-negative breast cancer accounts for about 10% to 20% of all breast cancer cases.
  • Every cancer diagnosis is unique, but in general, triple-negative breast cancer is a more aggressive type of tumor with a faster growth rate, higher risk of metastasis and recurrence risk. Therefore, it often requires chemotherapy as part of the treatment.
  • Surgery is also an important part of treatment, but if a tumor is small and localized, mastectomy may not be necessary. Chemotherapy can shrink triple-negative breast tumors, and patients can become candidates for less-extensive surgery.
  • Triple-negative cancers are more common in patients with hereditary genetic mutations, and genetic counseling and testing should be considered.

Local Recurrence After Mastectomy

Study Shows That Two Types of Neoadjuvant Chemo Can ...

Even though the entire breast is removed in a mastectomy, breast cancer can still return to the chest area. If you notice any changes around the mastectomy scar, tell your health care provider.

The more lymph nodes with cancer at the time of the mastectomy, the higher the chances of breast cancer recurrence.

Local recurrence after a mastectomy is usually treated with surgery, and radiation therapy if radiation therapy wasnt part of the initial treatment.

Treatment may also include chemotherapy, hormone therapy and/or HER2-targeted therapy.

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