New advancements in science and medicine have opened up vast opportunities for the treatments of various life-threatening diseases that were earlier thought to be potentially incurable. New studies and clinical trials are being conducted every day to develop new medications and treatments for different diseases.
Earlier, surgery and medication was thought to be the only options to manage cancer, but now, as a result of developments, numerous different techniques can be carried out for the treatment of this condition. Surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and other treatment options can now be used to treat cancer patients effectively and add a few more years to their lives, and sometimes even treat them completely.
Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer
Neo-adjuvant chemotherapy is normally done for breast cancer patients in stage 3 or 4 or when the size of the tumor in the breast is very large. Surgery can normally be the best option for people who have a cancerous tumor in the breast, but in cases when the tumor is very large, chemotherapy is carried out to shrink the size of the tumor. This is done before the surgery is done and is called neo-adjuvant chemotherapy.
Adjuvant chemotherapy is recommended for breast cancer patients who may have undergone surgical removal of the cancerous tumor. This is done usually to prevent the cancerous cells that may have metastasized (spread) to other parts of the body to grow and replicate.
Breast cancer patients are normally advised to undergo this therapy even after the surgery is carried out because there is a danger of spread of cancer cells through the lymph nodes near the breast and the armpits. Undergoing this therapy kills the remaining cancer cells and reduces the possibility of re-occurrence of cancer.
Palliative chemotherapy is carried out as a method of controlling the spread of cancer cells, not curing the disease. This is done usually when the cancer cells have metastasized to a huge number of body parts and where surgery is not a possible option.
Common Chemotherapy Drugs
Gemzar, Cytoxan, Xeloda, Navelbine, Herceptin (for women suffering from breast cancers due to the HER-2 gene), 5 florouracil, taxanes (including taxol, taxotere and abraxane) and anthracyclines (adriamycin, ellence and doxil) are some commonly used chemotherapy drugs for patients suffering from cancer of the breast.
Using a single drug at a time is rare and is recommended for patients whose cancer has spread to a wide area. A combination of 2 or more chemotherapy drugs is usually done, and is the best due to its speedy results. However, the toxicity involved is more than that of the use of a single drug.
How it Works
Chemotherapy drugs are normally administered either orally or intravenously in the patient. This therapy is carried out in cycles and usually extends from several months upto one year, depending upon the type of dosage given. Unlike the normal belief, people can easily work during their chemotherapy treatments without any problems whatsoever. Routine mammograms need to be carried out during the chemotherapy session so as to assess the current condition.