Chemotherapy Could Be A Breast Cancer Treatment That Your Doctor Recommends

Posted on: 25 April 2019

If you've learned you have breast cancer, you're probably exploring options for treatment. Your doctor might recommend surgery, radiation treatments, hormone therapy, or chemotherapy, and sometimes, you may take multiple types of treatment. Chemotherapy is a common treatment for breast cancer that not everyone takes, but your doctor might think it's right for you. Here's what you can expect if you choose chemotherapy as one of the breast cancer treatment services you will receive.

Chemotherapy Is Used For Early Or Advanced Cancer

Chemotherapy has several purposes in the fight against breast cancer. Just because your doctor recommends it, it doesn't automatically mean you have an advanced form of cancer. Chemotherapy is sometimes given before surgery to help reduce the tumor so the operation is easier on your body and safer to do. Other times, chemotherapy is done after the tumor is removed as a safety measure that no cancerous cells are left behind. By combining surgery and chemotherapy, the chances of cancer coming back could be reduced. Chemotherapy is also used once cancer has metastasized in an attempt to kill cancer cells that have moved to other areas of the body.

Many Drug Combinations Are Available

There are several breast cancer chemotherapy drugs your doctor can choose from. It's common for your doctor to combine two or three medications into a cocktail for the most effective form of treatment. Because each cancer drug is different, the administration of your chemotherapy will be matched to the drugs you're prescribed. You might take oral chemotherapy pills at home or go to a cancer clinic for IV administration.

A chemotherapy course can last several months, but it's often given in stages so you have time off for rest occasionally. The timing of your IV treatments varies according to the drugs you take, but it's possible you'll need to go to the clinic weekly. It's important to consider things like transportation, child care, and other obligations so once you start chemotherapy, you don't miss any of your appointments. You may need to get help from family or hire help so you get the support you need during treatment.

Side Effects Can Be Controlled

Chemotherapy works by killing fast-growing cells in your body. This is one reason your hair falls out when you have chemotherapy. This can also cause undesirable side effects such as nausea and fatigue. Always tell your nurse or doctor about side effects because they can often be controlled with medication or by making lifestyle changes. Some side effects are short term while others may last long after your chemotherapy ends. Talk to your cancer care team about possible side effects so you're prepared to deal with them before your chemotherapy sessions start. Knowing what to expect helps you cope when you feel ill or start losing your hair.