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What Is Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer

Common Side Effects Of Ac Chemotherapy

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Like any treatment, AC chemotherapy can cause side effects. Everyone reacts differently to drugs and some people have more side effects than others. These side effects can usually be managed and those described here will not affect everyone.

If youre concerned about any side effects, regardless of whether they are listed here, talk to your chemotherapy nurse or cancer specialist as soon as possible.

How Is Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer Given

Chemo drugs for breast cancer are typically given into a vein , either as an injection over a few minutes or as an infusion over a longer period of time. This can be done in a doctors office, infusion center, or in a hospital setting.

Often, a slightly larger and sturdier IV is required in the vein system to administer chemo. These are known as central venous catheters , central venous access devices , or central lines. They are used to put medicines, blood products, nutrients, or fluids right into your blood. They can also be used to take out blood for testing.

There are many different kinds of CVCs. The most common types are the port and the PICC line. For breast cancer patients, the central line is typically placed on the side opposite of the breast cancer. If a woman has breast cancer in both breasts, the central line will most likely be placed on the side that had fewer lymph nodes removed or involved with cancer.

Chemo is given in cycles, followed by a rest period to give you time to recover from the effects of the drugs. Chemo cycles are most often 2 or 3 weeks long. The schedule varies depending on the drugs used. For example, with some drugs, chemo is given only on the first day of the cycle. With others, it is given one day a week for a few weeks or every other week. Then, at the end of the cycle, the chemo schedule repeats to start the next cycle.

How Long Treatment Lasts

Youll usually have four to six cycles of AC chemotherapy, over three-four months. Both drugs are given on the same day, every three weeks.

The time between each cycle of treatment gives your body time to recover.

This may vary depending on whether the number of blood cells has returned to normal between each cycle.

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Treatments For Breast Cancer

If you have breast cancer, your healthcare team will create a treatment plan just for you. It will be based on your health and specific information about the cancer. When deciding which treatments to offer for ductal carcinoma and lobular carcinoma, your healthcare team will consider:

  • the stage
  • if you have reached menopause
  • the hormone receptor status of the cancer
  • the HER2 status of the cancer
  • the risk that the cancer will come back, or recur
  • your overall health

Will I Be Able To Work While I Am Having Treatment

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Most women are able to continue working during chemotherapy if they wish to. If you plan to keep working, it helps to have a supportive work place that gives you flexible work hours. You may need to have a few days off after each cycle of chemotherapy and when you get back to work you may find it difficult to work long hours. Your doctor can provide a medical certificate for time off this can be just a few days or a few months depending on your individual situation.

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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

More Common Side Effects

The more common side effects that can occur with cyclophosphamide include:

  • Infection, with symptoms such as:
  • fever
  • seizures
  • coma
  • Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.

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    Is Chemotherapy The Only Treatment For Breast Cancer

    No. Occasionally, chemotherapy is the only breast cancer treatment, but most often, healthcare providers use chemotherapy with other treatments, such as:

    • Lumpectomy: Removing the tumor and a small amount of surrounding breast tissue.
    • Mastectomy: Removing one or both breasts.
    • Hormone therapy: Taking medicines that lower estrogen or block estrogens effects on cancer cells.
    • Targeted therapy: Taking medicines that target the changes in cancer cells to destroy them or slow their growth.
    • Radiation therapy: Using high-energy X-rays to destroy cancer cells.

    What To Expect After Chemo

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    Once youâre home, you need to take care of yourself and take steps to manage chemo side effects. These include:

    • Take medications the doctor prescribed for side effects.
    • Stay away from anyone with a cold or infection — chemo makes it harder for your body to fight germs.
    • Drink lots of fluids for the first 8 hours to move the medicine through your body.
    • Manage bodily fluids and waste that may have traces of chemo. Usually, this means flushing the toilet twice.

    Youâll see your doctor every 4 to 6 months for the next 5 years after treatment ends.

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    When Is Chemotherapy Given

    When breast cancer is found only limited to the breast or lymph nodes, chemotherapy may be still be given after a lumpectomy or mastectomy. If the analysis of the findings from such a surgery suggests that there is a risk that cancer cells may have escaped from the breast and may be as yet undetectable elsewhere in the body, then chemotherapy may be recommended. This is known as adjuvant treatment and may help reduce the chance of breast cancer breast cancer recurrence.

    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.

    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.

    Common Types Of Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer

    Chemotherapy drugs are a specific class of medications called cytotoxic agents. Theyre designed to kill cancer cells.

    Cancer cells grow faster than regular cells. These drugs disrupt the growth of fast-growing cells and leave slower-growing cells generally unharmed.

    Some chemotherapy drugs damage the genetic material of the cells. Others interfere with the way the cells divide. However, some also affect other fast-growing cells in the body, such as hair, blood cells, and cells in the stomach lining and mouth. This accounts for some of the more common side effects.

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    What Are The Disadvantages Of Oral Chemotherapy

    While the oral administration of chemotherapy has the advantage of convenience and flexibility, it comes with a few potential disadvantages.

    The potentially significant disadvantages of oral chemotherapy, however, are associated with a patients ability to take their medication properly and with cost or access to the medication itself.

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    Side Effects Of Chemotherapy

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    Chemotherapy drugs attack fast-growing cells throughout the body, including cancer cells. But some normal cells in the body also grow quickly and may also be attacked by chemotherapy drugs. Those cells include:

    • Immune cells and those found in bone marrow
    • Cells found in the digestive system
    • Hair follicle cells

    When chemotherapy attacks these normal, healthy cells, it may cause short-term side effects that usually go away after treatment, such as:

    Long-term side effects from chemotherapy are also possible. In women who havent yet gone through menopause, chemotherapy may trigger:

    • Premature menopause
    • Infertility

    These side effects are more likely the older you are at the start of treatment, and if they do occur, you may experience a greater risk of bone loss and/or osteoporosis as a result.

    Its important to note that getting pregnant during chemotherapy increases your risk of birth defects, so be sure to ask your doctor about appropriate birth control during treatment.

    Less common long-term side effects of certain chemotherapy drugs include:

    • Heart damage
    • Nerve damage
    • Chemo brain, in which concentration and memory are diminished, a side effect lasting for several years

    And, very rarely, chemotherapy drugs may increase your risk of leukemia, usually occurring in the 10 years after treatment.

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    Effects Of Giving Ac Chemotherapy

    While the drug cyclophosphamide is being injected, you may feel hot or flushed and slightly dizzy, and have an itchy nose or a metallic taste in your mouth. These feelings usually go away when the injection is finished, but tell your chemotherapy nurse if you experience any of them. Some people find sucking a boiled sweet helps.

    Here Are Some Important Things To Know When Beginning A Course Of Oral Chemotherapy:

  • Providers and patients should expect that getting OAMs may require some extra time and advocacy effort.
  • A 2018 study by several Fox Chase Cancer Center physicians showed that both providers and patients face barriers to starting oral chemotherapy when it comes to insurance. This is largely due to the fact that insurers cover OAMs as a prescription drug benefit, whereas IV chemotherapy is covered as a medical procedure. The distinction can lead to delays from the time an OAM is prescribed until the patient receives the medication. These delays can last days or even weeks. The researchers found that the process was labor intensive, taking an average of two weeks and five phone calls for a patient to start a drug.

    Additionally, the study found that out-of-pocket costs could vary and required a lot of staff support to mitigate these costs through financial assistance. Many medical centers like Fox Chase offer financial counselors and insurance advocates to help patients and providers navigate this process.

    Being treated for cancer in the comfort of home is a big convenience for patients. But its important to remember that OAMs are powerful drugs and should be taken with the same care as traditional chemotherapy given in a hospital setting.

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    Warnings For People With Certain Health Conditions

    For people with kidney disease: If you have severe kidney disease, cyclophosphamide may build up in your body, causing toxicity. Your doctor should monitor your kidney function while you take this drug and adjust your dose if needed.

    For people with liver disease: This drug is processed by your liver. If you have liver disease, your body may not be able to activate this drug as well, or clear the drug from your body as well. As a result, this drug may not work as well for you or put you at increased risk of side effects.

    For people with urinary outflow obstruction: People with urinary outflow obstruction shouldnt use this drug. By-products of this drug can build up in your urinary system. This can cause dangerous effects.

    The Types Of Radiotherapy

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    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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    First Day Of Chemo Quotes

    Starting anything is not quite easy. The first day of chemo cannot be anything different.

    Though it is the first day of the journey of recovery, it requires a lot of strength, faith, courage, and encouragement.

    This list of the first day of chemo quotes will be of great advantage to help strengthen that loved one with cancer embarking on chemo treatments.

    1. When there is hope and the will to fight, cancer becomes a walk-through, not a dead end. Sam Adenuga

    2. Cancer is a disease in the body not a sickness in the soul. With your will to live, you will put cancer behind you. Sam Adenuga.

    3. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today, let us begin. Mother Teresa

    4. Let nothing trouble you, let nothing frighten you. All things are passing God never changes. Patience obtains all things. He who possesses God lacks nothing. God alone suffices. St. Teresa of Avila

    5. Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6.

    What To Say To Someone With Cancer That Is Dying

    Cancer has stages. Some of the stages are deadly and could be hopeless for the patient.

    If you have someone with cancer that is dying, here are some of the words full of hope, love, faith, and prayers you can say to them to help ease their pain in the trying time.

    Do take one or two of the below list of what to say to someone with cancer that is dying and especially dedicates it to that special person fighting cancer.

    1. My thoughts are with you. I pray you will know how much I love you and care about you.

    2. You are a great fighter. I pray for you great peace in this difficult time.

    3. Thought is a difficult time for you but I want you to know we all care so much about you and will always be by your side.

    4. I want you to know that I feel your pain and grief and nothing will make me leave your side.

    5. I remember all the good moments weve shared and how great and lovable soul you are. Even at this challenging time, you are pleasant.

    6. Dont be afraid, we are all here for you and our desire for you is to find great peace at this moment.

    7. I want to see you feel good and regain your strength. We are in this fight together.

    8. Running through my thoughts are the memories of the great life you have lived and your numerous accomplishments. I am thankful for you.

    9. I want you to know that we are all proof of the good life you have lived. We will always be here for you to reassure you of our love for you.

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    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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    How Does Chemotherapy Influence The Onset Of Menopause

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    During chemotherapy, women may have irregular menstrual cycles or amenorrhea . Some medications used in chemotherapy may cause damage to the ovaries, resulting in menopausal symptoms or menopause.

    Menopause triggered by chemotherapy may be immediate or delayed, permanent or temporary. Unfortunately, there is no way to accurately determine how or when chemotherapy or other cancer treatments will affect an individual’s menstrual cycle.

    However, menopause is rarely a sudden response to chemotherapy. When treatments begin, you may notice some menopausal symptoms, but usually the symptoms are delayed for several months after treatment is started. This is natural. Menopausal symptoms may last for years after treatment is completed.

    The most common symptoms of menopause are hot flashes, emotional changes, changes in the vagina, sexuality changes, and weight gain.

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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 .

    Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer

    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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    Use Of Myeloid Growth Factors To Maintain Chemotherapy Dose Intensity

    When chemotherapy is being given with the intention to cure or significantly prolong life, substantial dose reductions may compromise those therapeutic goals. Studies of records from community oncology practices suggest that the administered dose intensity of both adjuvant breast cancer chemotherapy and lymphoma treatment are frequently substantially lower than the published and planned regimens, suggesting that chemotherapy dose reductions and delays are common, even when cure is the therapeutic goal.298,299 In these and other studies, myeloid growth factor treatment use was highly variable between practitioners, and these agents were usually not used to maintain dose intensity. Myeloid growth factors can be used to enhance the delivered dose intensity and support the administration of full chemotherapy doses on time in these settings.300-302 In clinical practice, when good evidence indicates that a given chemotherapy regimen administered in full, planned doses given on time produces an improvement in cure rate or survival, it is obviously prudent to use myeloid growth factors rather than dose delays or reductions to manage bone marrow tolerance and infection risk.


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