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Treatment

 
Treatment

Chapter: 6 - Treatment

Subchapter: 8 - Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a treatment method that uses a combination of drugs to either destroy cancer cells or slow cancer cell growth. Cytotoxic drugs (meaning “toxic to cells”) are taken intravenously (through the bloodstream) or orally. Chemotherapy is a systemic therapy, meaning that the drugs travel in the bloodstream through the entire body.

Chemotherapy is offered to most patients based on several factors: tumor type, grade, size, receptor status, lymph node involvement and the risk for spread elsewhere. Your medical team will work to select the right blend of chemotherapy drugs to suppress each stage of the cancer cells’ growth. Chemotherapy is commonly prescribed along with other treatment methods such as hormonal and targeted therapies. It can also be used to shrink a tumor before surgery for easier and safer removal.

If you receive chemotherapy, your doctor will administer it in short courses, with several weeks in between to allow your normal cells to recover. This treatment period can be a challenging time emotionally and physically; it is important for you to develop a support team of family or friends that can help comfort and encourage you in this time.

Related Questions

  • Rebecca Corbit Profile

    What is the treatment for triple negative inflammatory breast cancer?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 8 years 2 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      I didn't have that type of breast cancer but here is a link to some information from this site. http://beyondtheshock.com/topic/triple_negative

      1 comment
    • Ali S Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      I was triple negative (but not inflammatory)--stage I . and I had choices...chemo, lumpectomy, radiation (or lumpectomy first, then chemo) but also could have had mastectomy. Since I'm young, I opted to keep my breast. I did chemo first and the tumor was nearly gone by 7th treatment.

      2 comments
  • Becky G Profile

    Have any of you done acupuncture after a mastectomy with lymph node removal?

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 2A Patient
    over 7 years 3 answers
    • shen cruces Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 3A Patient

      I go every two weeks but my acupuncturist doesn't put needles in the effected arm. He puts them everywhere else and it does help. I usually feel great after getting it done.

      Comment
    • vicki e Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2B Patient

      Becky, that is a tough one. Four years ago I had acupuncture following chemo, rads and bilateral mastectomy to relieve peripheral neuropathy, but I did not have nodes removed at that time. The acupuncture helped the neuropathy a lot, but I don't know how it would work with node removal.

      5 comments
  • Thumb avatar default
  • Chloe Brown Profile

    If the oncologist and surgeon disagree, what should I do next?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 7 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Coco Smith Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Disagreements amongst professionals is not always a negative - as long as it does not result in you being depressed, immobilised by confusion etc. It can often lead to better results for the patient if managed well.

      First, you need to be crystal clear on the precise points of dispute - list...

      more

      Disagreements amongst professionals is not always a negative - as long as it does not result in you being depressed, immobilised by confusion etc. It can often lead to better results for the patient if managed well.

      First, you need to be crystal clear on the precise points of dispute - list them with a number if more than one - the REASON each specialist gives for preferring their approach over the other AND most preferably, any studies, research or citations from reliable sources backing up their view. I circulate in research, academic and medico/legal circles and the second a professional with a view is unable to point to reliable studies and evidence to back up their approach, I smell a rat. Any competent person operating in their field should be able to do so without delays. If they know what they are talking about that is.

      Second - have you heard of the phrase "hot tubbing?" This is the phrase used to describe what Courts do when they have conflicting evidence from qualified and competent eg., medicos. It recognises that if they pass the first test of being able to produce credible evidence supporting their opinion, then putting the two of them together for 10 minutes may result in agreement, modification of views - a breakthrough. It can be done via Skype if the parties have goodwill and agree. You need to have your key questions about which treatment results in longest all cause survival stats, longest disease free survival, least local, regional or distance recurrence. You need to understand beforehand all the side effects of each treatment approach and whether you have any special considerations one way or the other with that. For example I have life time problem with allergies and anapylaxis runs in my family so a big issue for me is any treatment that dramatically increases those problems.

      Third - you may also need to make a judgement about which practitioner you trust the most. There is a gut reaction of course but I always caution women about being careful not to simply prefer someone because they have the smoothest bedside manner. I have found that often the pricklier characters can be more competent and up to date. At the en of the day I will select competent and up to date every time over "nice bedside manner." If a practitioner is self motivated to keep up to date for example, they will sacrifice earning time to attend important conferences in the field and/or collaborate in research. They can also cite the latest research developments in the field. Are either of your two specialists in the breast only? That's a good sign. Find out where they went to university as there is a hierarchy of academies too. Ask them which year they graduated. Study after study shows middle aged mid career surgeons are the best but with Oncologists that is more flexible provided they stay up to date. Ask how many breast cancer patients they treat per year and if its not over 50 - be wary because studies show the specialities who do it the most get better and better at it.

      Finally - with the surgeon insist he or she tell you their post operative complication rate as well as recision rates for BC and rate of patients with hospital acquired infections. With the Oncologist - ask them to run your histopathology stats through Adjuvant!Online [or get a copy of your pathology report, log on to Adjuvant!Online, register as a Dr - yes I know its not true but its not checked - input your own stats and hey presto, it will throw up the stats for various treatment options vis a vis your overall survival, disease free survival, and recurrence risks. Test your Oncologists honesty, clarity by asking to discuss the Adjuvant!Online results. If either of them evade your direct questions about their treatment recommendations and its sequelae - to me that's a red flag.

      Of course you can go to the third opinion but that will cost you more money and there is no guarantee that person is any more competent that the first two. In fact, they could be less so. Or come up with a third option. I would only go to third opinion if I could not work through the treatment differences in a productive and professional manner with the first two.

      FYI - I adored my crusty old Professor Oncologist who had no bedside manner but attended the lead international breast cancer conference each year, conducted research with a university cancer research group and had no warm and fuzzy skills. But he was competent through and through. My surgeon also great but middle aged rather than old.The fly in my treatment ointment was the Radiation Oncologist. In the end I took my Oncologist advice over and above that of the Radiation Oncologist whose major concern for me was over treatment that would harm me more than it would help - the RO wanted to throw everything but the kitchen sink at my cancer. I chose the less is more option. And that is the last issue - you have to be able to live with your decision without beating up on yourself.
      Good luck!

      Comment
    • Yashmira Devine Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      Get second opinion. No need to tell second doctor what you know. Schedule appointment and they will ask for your results and films from biopsy, MRI. Get as much info from second doctor and go with doctor that you feel good with. Remember that you don't owe the first doctor and onco anything. You...

      more

      Get second opinion. No need to tell second doctor what you know. Schedule appointment and they will ask for your results and films from biopsy, MRI. Get as much info from second doctor and go with doctor that you feel good with. Remember that you don't owe the first doctor and onco anything. You are advocating for yourself and need the best possible treatment. Good luck.

      Comment

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