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Oral Chemotherapy Drugs For Breast Cancer

How Targeted Therapy Works

Cancer Therapy: Oral Medication Basics: Information for Patients and Families (Chemotherapy)

Targeted therapies are created to attack specific parts of cancer cells to prevent cancer growth or to shrink existing tumors.

Each type of targeted therapy works a little differently, but all tend to interfere with the ability of cancer cells to grow, divide, repair, and communicate with other cells.

Here are some of the common types of targeted therapy:

  • Monoclonal antibodies. These medications are often combined with toxins, chemotherapy drugs, and radiation. They attach to targets on the surface of cancer cells and deliver these substances, causing cancer cells to die without harming healthy cells.
  • Small molecule inhibitors. These drugs generally target and inhibit specific pathways and processes that cause cancer cells to proliferate. They must be small enough to be able to enter the cell and interfere with proteins on both the inside and outside of the cell.
  • Angiogenesis inhibitors. These drugs inhibit the formation of new blood vessels, which fuel the growth of cancer cells.

What To Read Next

To learn more about Thompson Cancer Survival Centers group of Oncology Nurse Navigators, follow the link to read Nurse Navigators: Expertise Confirmed.

To read about other cancer-fighting medications and Thompson Cancers Oncology Pharmacy, read 5 Ways Oncology Pharmacists Keep You Safe

To better understand the impact nutrition can have on patients outcomes, read The Link Between Nutrition & Healing

Visit the website or News & Blog | Thompson Cancer Survival Center and explore other topics.

What You Need To Know About Breast Cancer Chemotherapy Pills

People commonly associate chemotherapy with intravenous cancer drugs in a hospital or doctors office. This has been the traditional nonsurgical method of treating cancer.

Due to recent advances in cancer treatments, oral chemotherapy pills have become more widely used for many types of cancer. There are a few that are approved for breast cancer, including capecitabine , which is often used to treat metastatic breast cancer.

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How Metastatic Breast Cancer Is Treated

In cancer care, different types of doctors often work together to create a patients overall treatment plan that combines different types of treatments. This is called a multidisciplinary team. Breast cancer multidisciplinary care teams typically include medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists, and pathologists. In addition, cancer care teams include a variety of other health care professionals, such as physician assistants, nurse practitioners, oncology nurses, genetic counselors, social workers, pharmacists, counselors, dietitians, financial advisors, and other supportive care members. Ask the doctor in charge of your treatment which health care professionals will be part of your treatment team and what they do. This can change over time as your health care needs change.

A treatment plan is a summary of your cancer and the planned cancer treatment. It is meant to give basic information about your medical history to any doctors who will care for you during your lifetime. Before treatment begins, ask your doctor for a copy of your treatment plan. The treatment plan can be updated over time as your treatments change.

The main goals of metastatic breast cancer treatment are to make sure that you have the:

  • Longest survival possible with the disease

  • Fewest possible side effects from the cancer and its treatment

  • Best and longest quality of life possible

Treatment options for metastatic breast cancer vary based on:

Are There Ways To Prevent Hair Loss With Chemotherapy

Oral Chemotherapy Fact Sheet (pack of 50 fact sheets): ASCO Store

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.

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Summary Of Treatment Options For Metastatic Breast Cancer

Hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer

Hormonal therapy is considered the standard initial treatment for HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer that is also hormone receptor-positive. It is often given in combination with targeted therapy. However, chemotherapy may also be given. A clinical trial may also be an option for treatment at any stage.

Hormone receptor-negative, HER2-negative breast cancer

In general, chemotherapy or targeted therapy is given for treatment of triple-negative breast cancer. A clinical trial may also be an option for treatment at any stage.

HER2-positive breast cancer that has spread to parts of the body other than the brain

In general, HER2-targeted therapy is regularly added to treatment for HER2-positive breast cancer that has spread. The drugs used depend on the treatments already given and whether the cancer is hormone receptor-positive. The treatment recommendations for first-line, second-line, and third-line or higher treatment are described below. A clinical trial may also be an option for treatment at any stage.

First-line treatment

Second-line treatment

  • For people with advanced breast cancer that has grown during or after first-line treatment with a HER2-targeted therapy, ASCO recommends trastuzumab deruxtecan as a second-line treatment.

Third-line or higher treatment

HER2-positive breast cancer that has spread to the brain

Is Oral Chemotherapy As Effective As Iv Chemotherapy

Yes, the potential results are the same no matter which method you choose. The purpose of chemotherapy is to kill cancer cells. It has the potential to reduce the size of tumors, control disease progression and, in some cases, may lead to cancer regression.

Chemotherapy may be used before and/or after another treatment, such as surgery, or alone as the primary treatment method. Its sometimes used in combination with other treatments, such as radiation therapy or immunotherapy.

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Possible Side Effects Of Chemo For Breast Cancer

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:

  • Hot flashes and/or vaginal dryness from menopause caused by chemo

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

  • Increased chance of infections
  • Easy bruising or bleeding

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.

How Often Will I Need To Take Oral Or Topical Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer

How often you take oral or topical chemo and how long your treatment lasts depend on the kind of cancer you have, the goals of the treatment, the drugs being used, and how your body responds to them.

You may need treatments daily, weekly, or monthly, but theyre usually given in on-and-off cycles. This means, for example, that you may take chemo the first 2 weeks and then have a week off, making it a cycle that will start over every 3 weeks. The time off lets your body build healthy new cells and regain its strength.

Your cancer care team can tell you how many cycles are planned and how long they expect your treatment to last.

Many people wonder how long the actual drugs stay in their body and how theyre removed. Your kidneys and liver break down most chemo drugs which then leave your body through urine or stool. How long it takes your body to get rid of the drugs depends on many things, including the type of chemo you get, other medicines you take, your age, and how well your kidneys and liver work. Your cancer care team will tell you if you need to take any special precautions because of the drugs you are taking.

If your cancer comes back, you might have chemo again. This time, you could be given different drugs to relieve symptoms or to slow the cancers growth or spread. Side effects might be different, depending on the drugs, the doses, and how theyre given.

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Will I Need Chemotherapy

Not everyone with early breast cancer will be recommended chemotherapy. Whether or not it is recommended for you will depend on your individual situation. Factors the doctors consider include the pathology of your breast cancer the risk of the cancer coming back or spreading to other parts of the body your general health and your preferences. Your medical oncologist will discuss whether chemotherapy is the right treatment for you and which combinations of medications are most appropriate.

Genomic tests

Some aspects of your type of breast cancer can influence whether chemotherapy is recommended for you. Your surgeon or medical oncologist may talk to you about genomic tests. Genomic tests can help predict the likelihood of an individual cancer recurring and can provide information to help you decide whether you may benefit from chemotherapy or some other breast cancer treatments.

Your doctor may talk to you about genomic tests currently available, including:

These tests are not covered by Medicare and can be quite expensive up to several thousand dollars. For further information about genomic testing, visit BCNAsMy Journey.

Quit Smoking Before Oral Cavity And Oropharyngeal Cancer Treatment

If you smoke, you should quit. Smoking during chemotherapy treatment can cause more side effects and can cause the chemo drugs to not work as well. It can give you a higher chance of getting an infection and is linked to worse outcomes. Smoking after treatment can also increase the risk of the cancer coming back and of getting another new cancer. Quitting smoking is the best way to improve your chances of survival. It is never too late to quit. For help, see How To Quit Using Tobacco.

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Analyzing Consumption Of Oral Medications For Specific Cancer Sites: Breast Cancer Chronic Myeloid Leukemia And Non

Based on previous findings, CDD were therefore considered the best metric to observe time trends for specific indications, particularly when adjustment is needed to take into account the fact that the standard dose results from combining various marketed units, and therefore was used for the three case studies of interest .

Consumption trend using the CDD of oral anticancer for breast cancer, chronic myeloid leukemia, and non-small-cell lung cancer

Oral medications with a CML indication had a 2.39-fold increase in consumption . Imatinib was the most consumed medicine over the study period, registering 218,818 CDD in 2008 and 434,263 CDD in 2020, followed by dasatinib that constantly increased .

Oral consumption of medications with NSLC indication registered a 4.41-fold increase . Erlotinib represented the total consumption between 2008 and 2009, as it was the only available oral form then. From 2010 onwards, new oral forms were introduced and osimertinib consumption progressively gained more preponderance, being the most consumed medicine for this indication in 2020.

Oral medications with a BC indication had a 1.86-fold increase overall from 2008 to 2020. However, broken down by the pharmacotherapeutic group, the increase in hormone and adjuvant therapy exclusively corresponded to a 1.83-fold increase, whereas the increase recorded for CDK 4/6 inhibitors between 2017 and 2020 was 40.8 fold.

Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes

TRIO: Post

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.

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Common Chemotherapy Drugs For Breast Cancer

Chemotherapy drugs used to treat early breast cancer include:

These drugs are often used with others like carboplatin, cyclophosphamide , and fluorouracil .

These drugs are often used with others like carboplatin , cyclophosphamide , and fluorouracil .

Choosing A Chemo Combination

Your doctor will probably talk to you about combining different chemo drugs. They may refer to them by abbreviations for their names. Some of the most common include:

  • AC: Adriamycin and Cytoxan
  • CMF: Cytoxan, methotrexate, and fluorouracil
  • FAC: Fluorouracil, Adriamycin, and Cytoxan
  • CAF: Cytoxan, Adriamycin, and fluorouracil

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Benefits Of Chemo Pills Vs Iv

There are many advantages for patients to receive chemo treatment in the form of pills versus IV if the option is available. For example, it is often more convenient to manage the oral meds from the comfort of home rather than traveling back and forth to an infusion center for IV chemotherapy. The attractiveness of these benefits depends on patients circumstances. It may be more important to use oral chemo options when treating patients for whom transportation is an issue or who have mobility challenges.

The convenience of oral chemo can also benefit patients who are full-time caregivers themselves. For these patients frequently going to an infusion center for chemotherapy is too disruptive to their other obligations. Patients continuing to work through their course of therapy may have to take less time off if they dont have to physically go to an office for treatment. The obvious contrast is that patients who use oral chemo do not have to get as many needle sticks as those receiving chemo by IV and potentially avoid the need for a port.

These benefits sound like most people would want to explore the option, but there are challenges to treatment with oral chemotherapy as well.

Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer

Preparing for Oral Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer drugs that may be given intravenously or by mouth. The drugs travel through the bloodstream to reach cancer cells in most parts of the body. Sometimes, if cancer spreads to the spinal fluid, which surrounds and cushions the brain and spinal cord, chemo may be given directly into in this area .

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Can Oral Chemotherapy Be Effective

Oral chemotherapy can be as powerful and effective as traditional chemotherapy.

When it comes to oral therapy, following directions and not skipping doses is key. It takes commitment to track your medications and take them on time and in the right dose. It also takes a lot of communication between you and your oncologist.

How effective your therapy is depends on:

  • the type of cancer
  • how well your body responds to therapy
  • the severity of your side effects

Talk with a doctor about what you can expect from oral chemotherapy.

The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Oral Chemotherapy: What Patients Need To Know

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If your recommended cancer treatment includes chemotherapy, you may be surprised if your oncologist offers you a choice for how its administered: via intravenous infusion or in an oral form that you take at home.

Many patients assume that if they need chemotherapy, theyll have to make regular visits to an infusion center to get it. But today, oral chemotherapy medication is an option to treat almost all cancer types, including:

The number of cancer patients opting for oral chemotherapy drugs over intravenous chemotherapy is increasing. That decision, however, isnt something to take lightly.

Chemotherapy drugs are powerful. Mishandling them or not taking them as directed may have serious consequences.

For many patients, choosing between these chemotherapy treatment options often comes down to a matter of weighing personal preferences. What one person considers an advantage may look like a disadvantage to another.

To provide you with the information youll need to make an informed decision, this article answers some common questions, including:

If you have questions about chemotherapy or other types of cancer treatment options, or if youd just like to talk with someone at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® about your cancer care, or chat online with a member of our team.

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What To Know About Paying For Oral Chemotherapy

Most oncology practices help you figure out your health coverage and how youll pay for your treatment.

If you have health insurance, theres a good chance that traditional chemotherapy is covered under major medical benefits. Depending on your policy, oral chemotherapy may fall under pharmacy benefits, which could mean youll have a much higher copay.

Make sure you understand your coverage so youre not blindsided by bills. If you do have high out-of-pocket costs, these services may be able to help you:

Many substances have the potential to interact with your chemotherapy medications. This includes:

  • over-the-counter or other prescription medications
  • herbal supplements

Some can affect the potency of your medication and others can cause dangerous side effects. With many medications, an occasional alcoholic beverage is harmless, but you shouldnt assume it is.

Each drug acts differently, so read the instructions and warnings that come with your prescription. Its a good idea to double-check with a doctor or pharmacist. Be sure to mention any other medications you take in addition to chemotherapy.


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