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What To Expect From Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer

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What to Expect from Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer

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Where You Have Chemotherapy

You usually have treatment into your bloodstream at the cancer day clinic. You might sit in a chair for a few hours so its a good idea to take things in to do. For example, newspapers, books or electronic devices can all help to pass the time. You can usually bring a friend or family member with you.

You have some types of chemotherapy over several days. You might be able to have some drugs through a small portable pump that you take home.

For some types of chemotherapy you have to stay in a hospital ward. This could be overnight or for a couple of days.

Clare Disney : Hello, my name is Clare and this is a cancer day unit.

So when you arrive and youve reported into with the receptionist, one of the nurses will call you through when your treatment is ready, sit you down and go through all the treatment with you.

Morning, Iris. My name is Clare. I am the nurse who is going to be looking after you today. Were going to start by putting a cannula in the back of your hand and giving you some anti sickness medication. And then I am going to come back to you and talk through the chemotherapy with you and the possible side effects you may experience throughout your treatment. Is that okay?

Each chemotherapy is made up for each individual patient, depending on the type of cancer they have and where it is and depending their height, weight and blood results.

Feeling Sick And Being Sick

You may feel sick or be sick after chemotherapy. This will depend on the type and dose of drugs youre having. But this can usually be controlled.

You may start feeling sick straight after chemotherapy, a few hours after or up to several days later. For some people it may last for a few hours and for others it can continue for several days.

People who are very anxious or prone to travel sickness or morning sickness in pregnancy may be more likely to actually be sick.

Youll be given anti-sickness medication, as tablets or into a vein, before each cycle of chemotherapy. Youll also be given anti-sickness tablets to take at home.

Several types of anti-sickness drugs are available. You may need to take a combination of drugs to relieve your symptoms. This may include taking a low dose of steroids for a short time. If you keep feeling sick or are being sick, let someone in your treatment team know.

Contact your hospital if you keep being sick and have difficulty keeping fluids down, even if it happens at the weekend or during the night.

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Chemotherapy Is An Individual Experience

Every person experiences chemotherapy differently, both physically and emotionally. Each person experiences side effects from chemotherapy differently, and different chemotherapy drugs cause different side effects. Fortunately, as the science of cancer treatment has advanced, so has the science of managing treatment side effects.

Whatever you experience, remember there is no relationship between how the chemotherapy makes you feel and whether you derive benefit from it.

Many people feel fine for the first few hours following chemotherapy. Usually, some reaction occurs about four to six hours later. However, some people don’t react until 12 or even 24 to 48 hours after treatment. Some people experience almost all of the side effects described below, while others experience almost none.

We have many treatments to help you deal with side effects. Please let us know how you are feeling so we can address your concerns and help make you more comfortable.

Your well-being is very important to us. There is a delicate balance between the benefits of chemotherapy and the harm of possible side effects. Please tell your doctor if you feel that the harm outweighs the benefit.

Cost And Health Insurance

Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer

The price of neoadjuvant therapy varies depending on the length of treatment needed and whether you have access to health insurance. For those with health insurance, the average cost is about $5,000.

Although NAT may cost thousands of dollars, most insurance companies cover these treatments. Also, successful neoadjuvant therapy will likely save you money in the long run by making more cost-effective treatment, like local removal of your breast cancer tumor, possible.

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What Can You Expect

Chemotherapy for bust cancer is given in cycles. The patient has to visit the clinic more than thrice a week for chemotherapy. Duration of recovery follows each therapy session.

Normally, if you have early-stage breast cancer, youll go through chemotherapy treatments for three to six months, yet your medical professional will certainly change the timing of your circumstances. If you have advanced bust cancer cells, treatment may proceed beyond 6 months.

It normally occurs after chemotherapy if you have early-stage breast cancer cells and are likewise arranged to get radiation treatment.

3rd Generation Chemotherapy drugs can be given up various means, consisting of pills you take in the house. You may receive prescriptions to reduce symptoms you can take at home to aid with side effects.

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Nausea Vomiting And Taste Changes

You may experience nausea and vomiting after your last chemotherapy treatment. It should go away in 2 to 3 weeks.

Your appetite may continue to be affected due to taste changes you may have experienced during your treatment. Your taste should go back to normal 1 to 2 months after chemotherapy. In the meantime, there are things you can do to help with these changes. Talk with your nurse if youd like more information.

How Does Chemotherapy Work

12) CHEMOTHERAPY – What To Expect | Breast Cancer

Chemotherapy works by attacking fast-growing cells in your body, including cancer cells. There are many different types of chemotherapy your medical oncologist will talk to you about whats most suitable for you. Sometimes more than one type of treatment may be effective for you, and you may be asked to decide which one to have. Your medical oncologist can tell you about the pros and cons of each.

Some questions you might like to ask include:

  • What are the possible side effects of each treatment?
  • How long is the course of each treatment?
  • How will the treatment fit in with my lifestyle and personal circumstances?

Some chemotherapy drugs are given in tablet form, however, most are administered intravenously . As a result, it is useful to drink plenty of fluids, relax and keep your hands and arms warm, as this can help the nurse or doctor find your veins.

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What Are The Side Effects Of Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer

Chemotherapy side effects vary based on what kind of drugs you take and for how long. Common chemotherapy side effects include:

During chemotherapy treatment, many people still work, exercise and care for their families. For others, the treatment can be exhausting and time-consuming. It may be difficult to keep up with usual activities.

Speak with your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of chemotherapy. You may manage side effects with supportive medications, such as anti-nausea drugs. Chemotherapy side effects generally go away after you finish treatment.

Is Chemo Right For You

Not all people who receive a diagnosis of breast cancer will need chemotherapy. Cancer can often be effectively treated with local therapies like surgery and radiation, without systemic treatment.

If youve received a diagnosis of larger tumors where the cells have spread to nearby lymph nodes, you may need a few rounds of chemo. In these cases, chemo is used as adjuvant therapy, or to prevent cancer from returning after the tumor has been removed.

If youve received a diagnosis of a stage 3 cancer and larger tumors, you may go straight to systemic treatment before getting surgery. This is called neoadjuvant treatment.

While the idea of chemotherapy may be intimidating, there have been significant improvements in how side effects are managed. Undergoing chemotherapy is much more tolerable than it used to be.

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Side Effects Of Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer

Like any treatment, 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.

Your treatment team will give you information about the drugs you are having, details of any side effects they may cause and how these can be controlled or managed.

Before starting chemotherapy you should be given a 24-hour contact number or told who to contact if you feel unwell at any time during your treatment, including at night or at the weekends.

Between each cycle of chemotherapy, youll have an assessment to see how youre feeling and whether youve had any side effects.

If you are concerned about any side effects, regardless of whether they are listed here, talk to your treatment team as soon as possible.

Chemotherapy After Or Before Surgery

My Breast Cancer Journey, Part 2

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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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.

Which Chemo Is Best For You

In cases of early stage cancer, an oncologist can make an informed decision about which drugs are best to use. Your age, the stage of the cancer, and any other health problems will all be taken into consideration before deciding on a chemo regimen.

These drugs are usually injected into a vein, either at your doctors office or at a hospital. Locations that provide chemotherapy injections are often called infusion centers.

You may need a port implanted if you have weak veins or are being given a certain type of drug. A port is a device thats surgically placed in your chest that allows for easy needle access. The port can be removed when therapy is finished.

Typically, a person is given several drugs, often called a regimen. Regimens are designed to attack the cancer at different stages of growth and in different ways. Your chemo drugs will be given on a regular schedule in doses called rounds.

According to the , the most common drugs and regimens used for breast cancer today are:

Regimen name

While chemotherapy treatments have greatly improved over time, there are often still noticeable side effects of treatment.

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Effect Of Third Generation Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer

Particular radiation treatment medicines for breast cancer can create long-lasting adverse effects, including:

  • Infertility. One possible side effect that may not vanish is the inability to conceive. Some anti-cancer medications harm the ovaries. It may create menopause signs and symptoms, such as hot flashes and genital dryness.
  • Bone thinning. Women who experience menopause early because of chemotherapy might have a greater danger of bone-thinning conditions, osteopenia, and weakening of bones. Its generally recommended that these females have regular bone thickness tests and, potentially, treatments to stop more bone loss.
  • Menstrual periods may end up being irregular or quiet . If ovulation ceases, maternity becomes impossible. Depending upon your age, radiation treatment may generate premature permanent menopause. It is beneficial to discuss your threat of long-term menopause and its repercussions with your physician. If you remain to menstruate, you may still obtain pregnant, even throughout treatment or after treatment is completed. The effect of chemotherapy can cause danger to the fetus. Thus, it is very important to talk with your doctor. Get a check-up done, if you are suitable for chemotherapy or not.
  • Leukemia. Seldom, radiation treatment for bust cancer can cause second cancer cells, such as cancer of the blood cells , several years after the chemotherapy is completed. However, leukemia is a rare side effect found in patients.
  • Facing Forward After Chemotherapy Treatment


    The end of cancer treatment is often a time to rejoice. You are probably relieved to be finished with the demands of treatment and are ready to put the experience behind you. Yet at the same time, you may feel sad and worried. It’s common to be concerned about whether the cancer will come back and what you should do after treatment.

    When treatment ends, you may expect life to return to the way it was before you were diagnosed with cancer. But it can take time to recover. You may have permanent scars on your body, or you may not be able to do some things you once did easily. Or you may even have emotional scars from going through so much. You may find that others think of you differently now – or you may view yourself in a different way.

    One of the hardest things after treatment is not knowing what happens next. Many cancer survivors feel that they had lots of information and support during their illness, once treatment stopped they enter a whole new world – one filled with new questions.

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    Reducing Your Risk Of Infection And Bleeding

    You can help reduce the risk of infection and bleeding by:

    • Regularly washing and drying your hands thoroughly
    • Cleaning any cuts and grazes and cover with a dressing or plaster
    • Avoiding people who are unwell or may be infectious
    • Eating as healthily as possible, and following any advice about food and drink given to you by your hospital
    • Drinking plenty of fluids
    • Storing and cooking food correctly

    What To Expect After Last Chemo Treatment

    Physical Changes and Strategies to Cope

    First and foremost, you may be noticing some physical changes in your life after chemo. Chemotherapy works by destroying cancer cells that grow and divide quickly unfortunately, this sometimes results in fast-growing, healthy cells also being affected.

    Its important to note that not everyone will experience the same sort of side-effects when it comes to life after chemo. Every situation is unique, and each survivors situation is different.

    Fortunately, no matter what you may be dealing with in your post-treatment life, most of your bodily issues are able to be kept under control. Luckily, there are numerous precautions and strategies you can employ to minimize the adverse effects of life after chemo.


    Depending on where your cancer was located, you may be dealing with pain. This pain can either be localized to the area where cancer was being treated, or it may be an issue that has impacted your entire body. Whatever the case may be, there are ways to cope with some of the painful side-effects that come along with what happens after chemo is finished, which will impact how long until you feel better.

    Peripheral Neuropathy

    • Inability to keep your balance
    • Sensitivity to cold or heat

    Skin Changes

    Some of the skin changes survivors frequently mention include:

    Dry Skin Your skin may be feeling itchy, accompanied by roughness and tightness. This is one of the more common skin conditions survivors may deal with.

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