Are There Any Lasting Side Effects Of Chemotherapy
Sometimes people do experience problems that may not go away. For example, some of the drugs used for breast cancer may weaken the heart. Your doctor may check your heart before, during, and after treatment. A rare side effect of chemotherapy is that occasionally, years after treatment, a few women have developed leukemia .Some chemotherapy drugs can damage the ovaries. If you have not gone through menopause yet, you may have hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Your menstrual periods may no longer be regular or they may stop. You may become infertile .
Reasons To Refuse Treatment
Most people would consider it normal to want to seek treatment for breast cancer the moment you are diagnosed, particularly at a time where survival rates are ever-increasing. But this would also infer that not seeking treatment is abnormal, and thats rarely the case.
There are a plethora of reasons why a woman may not be willing to pursue or continue breast cancer treatment. Some may be transient and fade with time. Others are fully committed and made with a complete understanding of the implications of the refusal.
Among some of the more common reasons for the refusal of breast cancer treatment:
According to research from Canada, the majority of women who refused breast cancer therapy were over 50 , married , and had metastatic disease . Of these, 50% reported using some form of complementary or alternative medicine.
Breast Cancer: Types Of Treatment
Have questions about breast cancer? Ask here.
ON THIS PAGE: You will learn about the different types of treatments doctors use for people with breast cancer. Use the menu to see other pages.
This section explains the types of treatments that are the standard of care for early-stage and locally advanced breast cancer. Standard of care means the best treatments known. When making treatment plan decisions, you are strongly encouraged to consider clinical trials as an option. A clinical trial is a research study that tests a new approach to treatment. Doctors want to learn whether the new treatment is safe, effective, and possibly better than the standard treatment. Clinical trials can test a new drug and how often it should be given, a new combination of standard treatments, or new doses of standard drugs or other treatments. Some clinical trials also test giving less treatment than what is usually done as the standard of care. Clinical trials are an option to consider for treatment and care for all stages of cancer. Your doctor can help you consider all your treatment options. Learn more about clinical trials in the About Clinical Trials and Latest Research sections of this guide.
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When Is Chemotherapy Given For Breast Cancer
Chemotherapy is sometimes given before surgery in order to shrink the tumor so it can be removed more easily or so that a lumpectomy can be performed instead of a mastectomy. When breast cancer is localized only to the breast or lymph nodes, chemotherapy may be given after a lumpectomy or mastectomy. This is known as adjuvant treatment and may help reduce the chance of breast cancer recurrence.
Chemotherapy may also be given as the main treatment for women whose cancer has spread to other parts of the body outside of the breast and lymph nodes. This spread is known as metastatic breast cancer and occurs in a small number of women at the time of diagnosis or when the cancer recurs some time after initial treatment for localized breast cancer.
Treating Stage Iii Breast Cancer
In stage III breast cancer, the tumor is large or growing into nearby tissues , or the cancer has spread to many nearby lymph nodes.
If you have inflammatory breast cancer: Stage III cancers also include some inflammatory breast cancers that have not spread beyond nearby lymph nodes. Treatment of these cancers can be slightly different from the treatment of other stage III breast cancers. You can find more details in our section about treatment for inflammatory breast cancer.
There are two main approaches to treating stage III breast cancer:
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Tell Your Doctor About Any Drugs Or Supplements You’re Taking
Be sure your doctor knows about any medications or supplements you’re taking, including any herbal supplements, vitamins or over-the-counter drugs. These may affect the way the chemotherapy drugs work. Your doctor may suggest alternative medications or that you not take the medications or supplements for a period before or after a chemo session.
Do I Need Genetic Counseling And Testing
Your doctor may recommend that you see a genetic counselor. Thats someone who talks to you about any history of cancer in your family to find out if you have a higher risk for getting breast cancer. For example, people of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage have a higher risk of inherited genetic changes that may cause breast cancers, including triple-negative breast cancer. The counselor may recommend that you get a genetic test.
If you have a higher risk of getting breast cancer, your doctor may talk about ways to manage your risk. You may also have a higher risk of getting other cancers such as ovarian cancer, and your family may have a higher risk. Thats something you would talk with the genetic counselor about.
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Proposing Chemotherapy For Healthy Women
In a perversion of modern day medicine, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has issued recommendations that urge healthy women to get prescribed chemotherapy drugs as a preventitive, to their risk of developing breast cancer. In this environment, where dangerous drugs are being prescribed without much cause, it is extremely important for breast cancer patients or those who feel they are at risk to understand that alternative breast cancer treatment options exist that will not put their life in jeopardy.
To make matters worse, there is no evidence whatsoever that these drugs can actually have a preventitive effect. All this while there are plenty of alternative breast cancer treatments that treat the whole body in a way that allows patients to survive on their own terms.
One of the core principles of treatment at Hope4Cancer is the use of Non-Toxic therapies. You can find out more about Non-Toxic Cancer Therapies by clicking here.
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What Are The Risks Of Chemotherapy
Different chemotherapy medicines tend to cause different side effects. Many women do not have problems with these side effects, while other women are bothered a lot. There are other medicines you can take to treat the side effects of chemo.
Talk to your doctor about the type of chemotherapy medicine that he or she is planning to give you. Ask about any side effects that the chemo may cause.
Short-term side effects can include:
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Hair thinning or hair loss.
- Mouth sores.
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After A Chemotherapy Session
Following a chemotherapy session, you may:
- Have your catheter removed.
- Have your vital signs checked.
- Review side effects with your health care provider.
- Receive prescriptions for medications you can take at home to help with side effects.
- Be advised to drink a lot of fluids.
- Receive instructions on proper handling of bodily fluids, such as urine, stool, vomit, semen and vaginal secretions, as these may contain some of the chemotherapy drugs for the next 48 hours. This may simply involve flushing the toilet twice after use.
Some people feel fine after a chemotherapy session and can return to their schedules, but others may feel side effects more quickly. You may want to arrange for someone to drive you home afterward, at least for the first few sessions, until you see how you feel.
How Chemotherapy Is Used With Other Cancer Treatments
When used with other treatments, chemotherapy can:
- Make a tumor smaller before surgery or radiation therapy. This is called neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
- Destroy cancer cells that may remain after treatment with surgery or radiation therapy. This is called adjuvant chemotherapy.
- Help other treatments work better.
- Kill cancer cells that have returned or spread to other parts of your body.
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Use Of Bct For The Treatment Of Ilc
ILC is the second most common type of invasive breast cancer. It has been the subject of increasing interest because of reports that the incidence of ILC has increased in postmenopausal women over the last 15 years, possibly in response to the growing use of estrogen-progestin hormone replacement therapy in this age group.
This study used the extensive data set available in the NCDB to examine trends in the management of ILC during this same 15-year period. We were especially interested in looking at developments in minimally invasive treatment strategies for this group. We found that the percentage of ILC patients using BCT had increased almost 3-fold over the study period and that patient outcomes were similar in BCT patients compared with mastectomy patients, stage for stage.
Two types of studies have been used previously to look at the effectiveness of BCT as a treatment option for ILC. In one type of study, outcomes in ILC treated with BCT were compared with outcomes in IDC treated with BCT. The 7 studies shown in compared 5-year local recurrence rates in patients treated with BCT. Five of the 7 studies showed slightly increased local recurrence rates in ILC compared with IDC, but the small numbers of patients with ILC limit the clinical importance of these findings. These studies also do not directly address the question of whether BCT is equivalent to mastectomy for the management of ILC.
Cam Treatment : Biofeedback
Biofeedback training is used to treat the side effects of chemotherapy. During biofeedback, youre hooked up to electrical sensors that monitor subtle changes in your body.
This method may help you gain conscious power over your body so that you can control actions that are normally autonomic, or involuntary. These functions include:
- muscle tension
- blood pressure
Your doctor will determine which type of biofeedback technique is best to treat your symptoms.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Resperate is the only biofeedback device approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. So be careful of machines marketed for at-home use. Some may be fraudulent and can cause damage.
- hormone therapy
- targeted therapy
Surgery and radiation therapy are considered local therapies because they treat cancer cells without affecting the rest of your body. Local therapies are most effective in the earlier stages of breast cancer.
Chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy are known as systemic therapies. Systemic therapies use drugs to treat breast cancer. Those drugs enter your bloodstream by either oral use or injection and reach tumors that have spread throughout your body. Systemic therapies are more effective in advanced stages of breast cancer.
Some breast cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, may cause side effects that last months or even years after therapy has ended. Some treatment plans may require multiple remedies at once, or one after the other.
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Alkaloids Against Cancer Cells
Plant alkaloids block cell division. They may be given at any time during the cell cycle but may be most effective during specific stages of cell development.
Chemotherapy drugs target fast-growing cells. Cancer cells grow quickly and erratically, making them prime targets for this type of aggressive drug treatment.
Patient And Tumor Characteristics
Patient and tumor characteristics for the 21,596 patients in the study sample are shown in . ILC patients who received BCT tended to be younger than those receiving mastectomy, with a shift of approximately 10% of patients from the 70 years or older category to the 51 to 69 years category. There was no major difference in ethnicity between the 2 treatment groups. Over the 3 time periods analyzed, the percentage of total ILC patients receiving BCT increased almost 3-fold, from 17.9% in 1989 to 1990 to 51.5% in 2000 to 2001. This change was marked by a parallel decrease in the percentage of total ILC patients receiving mastectomy from 82.1% to 48.5%.
TABLE 1. Patient and Treatment Characteristics for Patients With Invasive Lobular Carcinoma
There were notable differences between treatment groups in characteristics associated with disease severity. The median pathologic tumor size in patients who received mastectomy was 33.0% larger than in BCT patients. Mastectomy patients were also more likely than BCT patients to be node positive , and less likely than BCT patients to be ER-positive .
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What Matters Most To You
Your personal feelings are just as important as the medical facts. Think about what matters most to you in this decision, and show how you feel about the following statements.
Reasons to have chemotherapy after surgery
Reasons not to have chemotherapy
I want to do everything possible to treat the breast cancer.
I would rather wait and see if the cancer comes back before I have more treatment.
I would have strong feelings of failure if the breast cancer returned.
I know theres no way to know for sure whether chemo would keep the cancer from coming back.
I want to have the added treatment and be done with it.
I would be comfortable having frequent follow-ups, without the added treatment.
I feel ready to deal with the possible side effects of chemo.
I am very worried about the side effects.
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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Complementary And Alternative Treatments
Some people with breast cancer might be interested in exploring complementary or alternative treatments like vitamins, herbs, acupuncture, and massage.
These treatments are used alongside traditional breast cancer therapies to treat cancer or relieve cancer symptoms and uncomfortable side effects of treatments like chemotherapy. You can explore these treatments at any stage of breast cancer.
Examples of alternative therapy include:
- using massage to relax
- using peppermint tea to reduce nausea
- using cannabis to relieve pain
While some alternative medicine treatments might help you feel more comfortable, its important to keep in mind that many are unproven and could be harmful to your health. To be safe, talk with your doctor about alternative treatments youre interested in pursuing.
Breast cancer that spreads to other parts of the body can cause pain, such as bone pain, muscle pain, headaches, and discomfort around the liver. Talk with your doctor about pain management.
Options for mild to moderate pain include acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as ibuprofen.
For severe pain in a later stage, your doctor may recommend an opioid such as morphine, oxycodone, hydromorphone, or fentanyl. These opioids have the potential for addiction, so they are only recommended in certain cases.
While breast cancer stage has a lot to do with treatment options, other factors can impact your treatment options as well.
How To Choose A Complementary Therapy
Theres lots of different types of complementary therapies. Finding the right one for you will depend on your personal choice and you might try a couple before you find one you like.
You may want to look at the types of therapies that are available locally, how they work and what you feel may be helpful for you. You may also want to think about how comfortable you are with the way a therapy is given. For example, some therapies will require several appointments, and some may mean you will need to be partly undressed. However, a good complementary therapist will do their best to put you at ease.
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Timing And Frequency Of Chemotherapy Sessions
Chemotherapy for breast cancer is given in cycles. The cycle for chemotherapy can vary from once a week to once every three weeks.
Typically, you’ll undergo chemotherapy treatments for three to four months, but your doctor will adjust the timing to your circumstances. If you have advanced breast cancer, treatment may continue beyond six months.
Supportive Care During Chemotherapy
As is obvious from their origins, the above cancer chemotherapies are essentially poisons. Patients receiving these agents experienced severe side-effects that limited the doses which could be administered, and hence limited the beneficial effects. Clinical investigators realized that the ability to manage these toxicities was crucial to the success of cancer chemotherapy.
Several examples are noteworthy. Many chemotherapeutic agents cause profound suppression of the bone marrow. This is reversible, but takes time to recover. Support with platelet and red-cell transfusions as well as broad-spectrum antibiotics in case of infection during this period is crucial to allow the patient to recover.
Several practical factors are also worth mentioning. Most of these agents caused very severe nausea in the literature) which, while not directly causing patient deaths, was unbearable at higher doses. The development of new drugs to prevent nausea was of great practical use, as was the design of indwelling intravenous catheters which allowed safe administration of chemotherapy as well as supportive therapy.
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