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How Often Is Chemo Given For Breast Cancer

When Is Chemotherapy Given For Breast Cancer

Chemotherapy for Node Negative 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.

What Happens After Iv Chemotherapy Ends

After your treatment session ends, the nurse or another health care team member will take out your IV. If you have a port, it will stay in until you finish all of your treatments. The nurse will check your blood pressure, pulse, breathing, and temperature again.

Your oncologist or nurse will talk with you about what to expect with side effects. They will give you medication, tell you how to manage common side effects, and offer information such as:

  • Avoid people with colds or other infections. Chemotherapy weakens your body’s immune system. Your immune system helps fight infections.

  • Drink lots of fluids for 48 hours after chemotherapy. This helps move the drugs through your body.

  • Whether there are activities to do or avoid doing on future treatment days.

Before you leave your first treatment, be sure to ask who you should call with any questions or concerns and how to contact them, including after hours or weekends.

Chemotherapy For Early Breast Cancer After Surgery

After you have a breast Surgery to remove a tumour, your doctor can prescribe Chemotherapy to kill any undetected cancer cells and to reduce your recurrent cancer risk. This known as adjuvant Chemotherapy.

The doctor may prescribe adjuvant Chemotherapy if you have a high risk of recurring or spreading the cancer to other parts of your body , even though after Surgery there is no evidence of cancer. When cancer cells are present in lymph nodes near the breast with the tumour, you could be at greater risk of metastasis.

When considering adjuvant chemotherapy, ask your doctor how much the Chemotherapy will lower the risk of returning to cancer. Together you should balance this decreased risk against the Chemotherapy side effects. Also, discuss other alternatives with your doctor, such as hormone-blocking therapy, which might be effective in your situation.

Chemotherapy before Surgery for early breast cancer

Chemotherapy is often given to reduce larger tumours before Surgery . This could:

Allow the surgeon the best chance to fully remove the tumour

Require the surgeon to remove only the tumour, not the whole breast.

Increasing the level of disease in lymph nodes, requiring less invasive treatment of the lymph nodes

Minimize risk of cancer returning

Allow assessment of the tumour response to therapy to help explain the prognosis and choose the best drug for chemotherapy

Neoadjuvant therapy is often used for:

Treatment to reduce Breast Cancer risk

Read Also: What Are The Symptoms Of Stage 1 Breast Cancer

Are You A Newly Diagnosed Breast Cancer Patient Or Caregiver Trying To Determine What Treatment Plan Is Right For You Or A Loved One

The Oncotype DX breast cancer test is a genomic test that may help guide treatment decisions for patients with non-invasive breast cancer, often referred to as ductal carcinoma in situ , and help early-stage invasive breast cancer patients with estrogen receptor-positive HER2 negative disease with node negative or up to three positive lymph nodes evaluate if they will benefit from chemotherapy.

If you are a caregiver looking for support or additional information about breast cancer, please consider visiting:

If you would like to speak about the Oncotype DX test with a knowledgeable customer service specialist at Exact Sciences, please call: .

How Long Do I Take Tamoxifen

Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer

The American Society of Clinical Oncology recommends that:

  • newly diagnosed premenopausal and perimenopausal women take 5 years of tamoxifen as their first hormonal therapy after this first 5 years is done, the hormonal therapy taken for the second 5 years would be determined by the womans menopausal status:
  • postmenopausal women could take another 5 years of tamoxifen or switch to an aromatase inhibitor for 5 years
  • pre- and perimenopausal women would take another 5 years of tamoxifen
  • newly diagnosed postmenopausal women have several options:
  • take tamoxifen for 10 years
  • take an aromatase inhibitor for 5 years right now there isnt enough evidence to recommend taking an aromatase inhibitor for 10 years
  • take tamoxifen for 5 years, then switch to an aromatase inhibitor for another 5 years
  • take tamoxifen for 2 to 3 years, then switch to an aromatase inhibitor for another 5 years
  • postmenopausal women who started taking an aromatase inhibitor but didnt finish 5 years of treatment can switch to tamoxifen to complete 5 years of hormonal therapy
  • postmenopausal women who started taking tamoxifen but didnt finish 5 years of treatment can switch to an aromatase inhibitor and take it for 5 years
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    What Is An Anthracycline

    An anthracycline is a type of chemotherapy that attacks enzymes inside of cancer cells DNA which helps them divide and grow. Anthracyclines used in breast cancer treatment include doxorubicin, liposomal doxorubicin, and epirubicin. These anthracyclines are bright red in color and may cause temporary discoloration of urine and bodily fluids.

    A side effect of all anthracyclines is that they may cause a type of permanent heart damage, called cardiomyopathy. Because of this, there is a limit to how much anthracycline a person can receive in their lifetime. People receiving treatment with anthracyclines should have their heart function monitored with an echocardiogram or a MUGA scan, a special type of heart imaging technique.

    Chemotherapy After Or Before Surgery

    It’s fairly common for chemotherapy to be given after surgery, as soon as you recover. The time between surgery and chemotherapy depends on each person’s unique situation, so don’t worry if you start sooner or later than someone else. Doctors call this “adjuvant” chemotherapy because it’s given in addition to surgery, which is considered the primary treatment.

    In some cases, chemotherapy is given before surgery to shrink the cancer so less tissue has to be removed. When chemotherapy is given before surgery, it’s called “neoadjuvant” chemotherapy. Only certain types of cancers respond well to chemotherapy before surgery.

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    Radiation Therapy Side Effects

    The side effects of radiation therapy depend on the type of radiation therapy youre having. In general, the side effects tend to develop as treatment goes on and may be more troubling toward the end of treatment. Overall, the most common side effects are redness, swelling, and skin peeling in the area being treated. Read more about radiation therapy side effects.

    This Post Has 15 Comments

    Breast Cancer Chemotherapy Benefit After Surgery
  • EmilyGoodall 6 Jul 2017

    Great article . . . about time someone stepped up to the plate and blew the whistle on this dangerous threat. R. Cameron Bryce talks about this phenomenon at length in his nonfiction thriller, Killing Tony. Chemo and radiation treatments have the very real potential to cause new, much more virulent forms of cancer within a patient whose original cancer diagnosis is in full remission!

  • 0or8afh 6 Jul 2017
  • Why do you think cancer almost always returns with much greater fervor AFTER chemo!!?

  • Fifi 7 Jul 2017

    Isnt it because your immune system has been compromised? The immune system has to work so much harder to fight the poisoning effects of the chemotherapy drugs and becomes weakened in the process. Physically we are already taxing our general immunity e.g. environmental toxicity. Our mental patterns also play a powerful role as well.

  • edward varley 6 Jul 2017

    The problem is that when you stop the chemo, the Cancer starts to spread.

  • Elisa 6 Jul 2017

    Wow i was told by the onocologist that i had to do chemo and i had no cancer cells that traveled through my body. I refused because i did not understand what the chemo was killing if there were no cancer cells.

  • brucelee 7 Jul 2017

    the tele and daily mail as references!? at least ref the original study

  • Marcy 11 Jul 2017

    I refused chemo and the oncologist said should I book an appointment with the psychiatrist?. Had the radiotherapy, maintain a healthy diet/lifestyle and over four years cancer free.

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    Will My Chemotherapy Make Me Sick

    Without receiving special anti-nausea medications, most patients will experience some nausea after treatment with chemotherapy. Nausea and vomiting may last 24-48 hours. The severity of nausea and vomiting mainly depends on which chemotherapy drugs were used. A number of very effective medications called anti-emetics or anti-nausea drugs are now available to help lessen or prevent nausea and vomiting. These medications may be given to you intravenously during your chemotherapy, or you may be given a prescription medication to take at home.

    To learn more, go to nausea and vomiting.

    After Each Chemo Treatment

    If necessary, your blood will be drawn after chemo. If your red counts or neutrophils are low, you may be offered shots to boost those counts. Chemotherapy can greatly affect your blood counts because blood cells divide and multiply quickly and are therefore targeted by the drugs.Staying on top of your blood counts is essential for recovering from chemo with a healthy immune system and avoiding anemia and neutropenia.

    Breast Cancer Doctor Discussion Guide

    Get our printable guide for your next doctor’s appointment to help you ask the right questions.

    • Nerve damage
    • “Chemo brain”

    Your specific chemotherapy drug or regimen may cause other side effects, as well. These effects will subside after you’ve finished treatment.

    Before each treatment, your medical oncologist may want you to take medications to protect against side effects. Be sure to take these on time and as prescribed.

    Between chemotherapy appointments, if you have trouble dealing with side effects, don’t hesitate to call your clinic and ask for help. If you’re dehydrated after a treatment, you can ask for an infusion of saline fluid. Other medications may be given along with the saline to help with nausea and vomiting.

    Also Check: Cancer Progression Symptoms

    Take Steps To Improve Your Overall Health

    Make healthy choices before cancer treatment so you’ll feel strong as your treatment begins. Continuing healthy choices during treatment may help minimize side effects.

    Your doctor may recommend that you:

    • Get plenty of rest.
    • Stay active and make the time to exercise.
    • Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
    • Minimize stress.
    • Avoid infections, such as the common cold and the flu. Talk with your doctor about recommended vaccinations, including annual flu vaccines. Also engage in behavior to reduce the risk of infection while on active chemotherapy, such as washing hands or using hand sanitizer before eating and using gloves while doing yardwork.
    • See your dentist for any signs of infection in your teeth or gums.
    • Undergo blood tests to check your liver and kidney function and tests to check your heart function. If problems show up, your doctor may delay your treatment or select a chemotherapy drug and dosage that is safer for you.

    Why Is My Complete Blood Count Tested After Treatment

    What are the Pros and Cons of Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer?

    Chemotherapy destroys rapidly dividing cells, a characteristic of cancer cells. However, red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets also divide rapidly and are frequently damaged by chemotherapy. Your red blood cell count, white blood cell count, and platelet count may all go down. Your doctor monitors these counts to determine the toxicity of treatment and to predict your risk for complications, as well as to plan future therapy. For more information, see section on Understanding and Monitoring Your Blood Counts.

    Recommended Reading: Breast Cancer Stage 4 Survival Rates

    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 may be permanent. Some chemo drugs are more likely to cause this than others. The older a woman is when she gets chemotherapy, the more likely it is that she will go through menopause or become infertile as a result. When this happens, there is an increased risk of bone loss and osteoporosis. There are medicines that can treat or help prevent bone loss.

    Even if your periods have stopped 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 are pre-menopausal 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 in your case. Women who have finished treatment can safely go on to have children, but it’s not safe to get pregnant while on treatment.

    If you think you might want to have children after being treated for breast cancer, talk with your doctorbeforeyou start treatment. Learn more from our section on fertility concerns for women with cancer.

    The Oncologist And Palliative Care

    Between 80% -90% of breast cancers are curable, unfortunately, some women do not ultimately survive breast cancer.

    It is really the role of the oncologist, though not an easy one, to inform the patient when it appears as though the breast cancer has progressed beyond their ability to cure it and to change the focus of the breast cancer management.

    Palliative care is the total support and care of patients with an advanced progressive illness. The oncologist is also in charge of arranging and managing palliative care for incurable breast cancers.

    Palliative care is becoming more specialized, and in the future, we are likely to see this role taken over by specialized nurses and doctors who are able to make home visits.


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    What Happens Before Chemotherapy

    Each chemotherapy treatment plan is created to meet a patient’s unique needs. But before treatment starts, you can expect to take these general steps.

    Meet with your oncologist. The doctor will look over your medical records and do a physical exam. You will also have tests done to help plan treatment. Your exact treatment depends on the type, size, and location of the cancer. Your doctor will also consider your age, your general health, and other factors, such as previous cancer treatments.

    Learn about your chemotherapy treatment schedule. Your health care team will explain when and how often you need chemotherapy. Most chemotherapy treatments are given in repeating cycles. The length of a cycle depends on the drug you receive. Most cycles range from 2 to 6 weeks. The number of treatment doses scheduled within each cycle also depends on the prescribed chemotherapy.

    For example, each cycle may contain only 1 dose on the first day. Or, a cycle may contain more than 1 dose given each week or each day. Often, your doctor will check if the treatment is working after you finish 2 cycles. Most people have several cycles of chemotherapy. Sometimes, chemotherapy treatment is ongoing as a maintenance therapy.

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    How Do You Get Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer

    Having chemotherapy for breast cancer – patient guide

    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.

    Read Also: What Is Treatment For Stage 2 Breast Cancer

    Chemotherapy For Metastatic Breast Cancer

    Advances in treatment are making it possible for women with metastatic breast cancer to live for many years. New drug therapies can not only slow down or stop a tumors growth but also keep symptoms at bay.

    Which treatment your doctor recommends will vary based on your medical history, age, and breast cancer type, among other factors. Combinations of drugs are commonly prescribed for women with early-stage disease. Most women with advanced breast cancer generally receive only one drug at a time.

    Chemotherapy drugs that MSK doctors commonly prescribe for advanced breast cancer include:

    Women with advanced disease can also benefit from genomic testing. This is also called tumor sequencing or molecular profiling. It is offered to all MSK patients with metastatic breast cancer. Genomic testing involves looking at the cancer cells to see if there are any genetic mutations that could be linked to the specific type of breast cancer you have.

    Our experts use a highly sophisticated testing approach developed by MSK researchers called MSK-IMPACT. The information gained from MSK-IMPACT can help us personalize your care. We can rule out drug therapies that may not work for you or sometimes recommend cutting-edge clinical trials designed to target the specific mutations in your tumor.

    What To Expect During Treatment

    You usually get chemo in an outpatient center at a hospital or clinic. If you have early stage breast cancer, youâll probably get treatments for 3 to 6 months. It may last longer for advanced breast cancer. Youâll have treatment in cycles, which could be just once a week or as often as three times a week. If youâre getting radiation and chemo together, youâll get the radiation after the chemo treatment. You may want to have someone drive you home the first few times until you know how it affects you.

    On the day of treatment:

    • Technicians will take some of your blood for tests.
    • Your doctor will go over the blood test results and talk about your overall health.
    • The doctor orders the treatment.
    • Youâll meet with the person on your health care team whoâs going to give you the chemo.
    • Theyâll check your temperature, pulse, and blood pressure.
    • Theyâll put the IV into your vein.
    • Theyâll give you medications to prevent nausea, anxiety, and inflammation along with the chemotherapy.
    • When your treatment is done, theyâll remove your IV and check your vital signs again.
    • Youâll get prescriptions for dugs you can take at home to help with side effects.
    • Theyâll tell you what is OK to eat and drink once youâre home.

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