Will The Nhs Fund An Unlicensed Medicine
It’s possible for your doctor to prescribe a medicine outside the uses it’s licensed for if they’re willing to take personal responsibility for this ‘off-licence’ use of treatment.
Your local integrated care board may need to be involved, as it would have to decide whether to support your doctor’s decision and pay for the medicine from NHS budgets.
Page last reviewed: 28 October 2019 Next review due: 28 October 2022
Survival Happens Every Day
These rough estimates for how long breast cancer takes to treat can be helpful to plan your life around treatment. More importantly, they provide a light at the end of the tunnel for you to focus on. However, for your daily sanity, it may be better to break down your treatment into smaller parts. Take it from one day to the next. Remember, every day you make it, youre already winning. These factors all affect how long breast cancer takes to treat.
Allow For Fatigue And Recovery
The day after your first treatment you may feel tired or very fatigued. Plan on resting, as this gives your body the chance to respond to the chemotherapy, and begin the recovery cycle. Remember that chemo affects every cell in your body. Stay well-hydrated by drinking lots of water or juice.
If you feel fuzzy brained from the medications, try a hot tub soak. Do keep in mind that the majority of the side effects are temporary and that during recovery you will soon feel better.
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Supporting Someone With Breast Cancer
If youre reading this because theres a breast cancer survivor in your life, youre already being supportive.
Maybe you dont know what to say or fear saying the wrong thing. Say something anyway. Dont let breast cancer go unmentioned. The best thing you can do now is to be there and let them lead the way.
People with breast cancer may feel obligated to act with confidence and have a positive attitude. That may mask whats really going on. Let them know they can be real with you, then listen without judgment.
Offer to help in a concrete way. Can you prepare a meal? Do some chores? Share a movie night? Let them know what youre willing to do. But take them at their word. If they dont want help, dont push it. Just making the offer lets them know you care.
The end of treatment is not the end of the experience. There are many adjustments ahead. Some things may never return to the way they were, but change isnt always a bad thing.
Optimal Wait Time Before Surgery
We lead busy lives. Some people wonder if they can wait until an upcoming vacation to have surgery, or until their children are back in school. Others hope to wait until their insurance kicks in at a new job, or until they are able to find insurance. And not everyone feels quite ready to have surgery right after being diagnosed.
The average wait time until surgery has actually been increasing, with the average delay being 21 days in 1998, 31 days in 2003, and 41 days in 2008.
How long can you wait? Let’s look at studies of overall survival as well as special groups.
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How Long Do Side Effects Last
Many side effects go away fairly quickly, but some might take months or even years to go away completely. These are called late effects.
Sometimes the side effects can last a lifetime, such as when chemo causes long-term damage to the heart, lungs, kidneys, or reproductive organs. Certain types of chemo sometimes cause delayed effects, such as a second cancer that may show up many years later.
People often become discouraged about how long their treatment lasts or the side effects they have. If you feel this way, talk to your cancer care team. You may be able to change your medicine or treatment schedule. They also may be able to suggest ways to reduce any pain and discomfort you have.
How Many Chemo Treatments For Breast Cancer
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How Is Chemotherapy Given
Many different drugs and combinations of drugs can be used to treat breast cancer. Chemotherapy can be taken as tablets or capsules, or injected through an intravenous drip. Chemotherapy for breast cancer is usually given through a drip. The way that treatment is given depends on the specific drugs that are being used.
Chemotherapy is co-ordinated by a medical oncologist and is given by specialist cancer nurses in the chemotherapy unit at a hospital. Chemotherapy is usually given over a few hours as a day-only treatment, so you can go home on the same day. Some women find it helpful to have someone available to drive them home after treatment in case they feel unwell. Chemotherapy is not normally painful although some people find the drip uncomfortable.
Chemotherapy for breast cancer is usually given in treatment cycles. Typically, you would go to the hospital for the day every three weeks and this would be repeated until you have had four or six treatments. Sometimes chemotherapy is given more often than every three weeks, for example it can be given as a weekly cycle for eight to twelve cycles. Your doctor will explain the schedule that has been recommended for you.
The common chemotherapy drugs for breast cancer include:
Breast Cancer: Types Of Treatment
Have questions about breast cancer? Ask here.
ON THIS PAGE: You will learn about the different types of treatments doctors use for people with breast cancer. Use the menu to see other pages.
This section explains the types of treatments, also known as therapies, that are the standard of care for early-stage and locally advanced breast cancer. Standard of care means the best treatments known. When making treatment plan decisions, you are encouraged to discuss with your doctor whether clinical trials are an option. A clinical trial is a research study that tests a new approach to treatment. Doctors learn through clinical trials whether a new treatment is safe, effective, and possibly better than the standard treatment. Clinical trials can test a new drug and how often it should be given, a new combination of standard treatments, or new doses of standard drugs or other treatments. Some clinical trials also test giving less drug or radiation treatment or doing less extensive surgery than what is usually done as the standard of care. Clinical trials are an option for all stages of cancer. Your doctor can help you consider all your treatment options. Learn more about clinical trials in the About Clinical Trials and Latest Research sections of this guide.
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What Are The Side Effects
As chemotherapy works by attacking fast-growing cells in the body, it also attacks some of the normal fast-growing cells in the body, including blood cells, hair follicles and cells inside the mouth, gut and reproductive organs. This causes side effects including: nausea, hair loss, fatigue and mouth and gut issues. Unlike cancer cells however, normal cells usually recover from the damage.
Not everyone has side effects from chemotherapy and most side effects stop when chemotherapy treatment stops. Your medical oncologist or oncology nurse can give you information on ways to manage these side effects.
If side effects are affecting your daily life, its important to discuss them with a member of your medical team. In some instances, your medical oncologist may be able to change your chemotherapy drug to one that has fewer side effects or reduce the dose of the chemotherapy.
Hair loss can be one of the most upsetting side effects of chemotherapy. Whether or not you lose your hair depends on the type of chemotherapy drugs prescribed for you.
As well as losing hair from your head you may also lose hair from other parts of the body, such as eyebrows and eye lashes.
To help prevent hair loss from your head, some oncology centres offer the use of scalp cooling machines. Scalp cooling works by chilling the scalp and reducing blood flow to the scalp to prevent chemotherapy from getting to the hair follicles. This means the hair is less likely to be damaged and fall out.
Chemo Brain And Stress
Many people experience mental changes after chemotherapy treatment. This is sometimes called chemo brain. You may have problems such as poor memory, trouble finding words, difficulty focusing. This can affect parts of your life, including caring for your family and managing your job.
Some things that help with chemo brain include keeping a calendar, writing everything down, and exercising your brain with puzzles and reading. Try to focus on 1 task at a time instead of more than 1 task. You can also work with an occupational therapist for cognitive behavioral rehabilitation. This is a treatment to help you if you have cognitive issues. Occupational therapists work in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Occupational and Physical Therapy. For more information about cognitive behavioral rehabilitation, talk with your healthcare provider for a referral.
Try to avoid having goals for yourself that are too high. This can add to your stress level and frustration. Most people say it takes 6 to 12 months after they finish chemotherapy before they truly feel like themselves again. Read the resource Managing Cognitive Changes for more information about managing chemo brain.
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Translation Into Clinical Practice
After these results, in everyday clinical practice the patient should be therefore informed that they will likely get the best chance for an improved outcome with a longer chemotherapy administration. This approach must however be weighed against the detrimental effects of continuous chemotherapy delivery on patient quality of life.
In fact, the management of a patient with metastatic breast cancer needs to be tailored on the patient and their disease characteristics, and cannot even ignore the patients needs and desires. For this reason, despite available evidence from the above reported meta-analysis supporting the policy of prolonging chemotherapy until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity, the correct approach is based on a solid patientphysician relationship to reach a common decision.
Another consideration is that in modern oncology practice, prolonging chemotherapy after disease control by the administration of full-dose chemotherapy may be considered an outdated concept and may not be feasible because of excessive toxicity and the impact on quality of life. As a matter of fact, when prolonging chemotherapy after disease control is reached, alternative schedules are often used in the clinical practice.
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.
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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
What To Expect After Chemo
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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Studies On Time To Surgery And Survival
Several studies have been done, but there are some differences in how these were conducted that can affect the results. For example, some studies have looked at the time between a definitive diagnosis and surgery, and others have looked at the time between the onset of symptoms and the time of surgery. Some have looked at averages of all people, whereas others have separated out people based on age, tumor type, and receptor status. Studies can also be skewed, as doctors may recommend surgery sooner for women who have more aggressive tumors. Lets look at time to surgery and survival rates in different groups of people.
How Breast Cancer Is Treated
In cancer care, doctors specializing in different areas of cancer treatmentsuch as surgery, radiation oncology, and medical oncologywork together with radiologists and pathologists to create a patients overall treatment plan that combines different types of treatments. This is called a multidisciplinary team. Cancer care teams include a variety of other health care professionals, such as physician assistants, nurse practitioners, oncology nurses, social workers, pharmacists, counselors, nutritionists, and others. For people older than 65, a geriatric oncologist or geriatrician may also be involved in their care. Ask the members of your treatment team who is the primary contact for questions about scheduling and treatment, who is in charge during different parts of treatment, how they communicate across teams, and whether there is 1 contact who can help with communication across specialties, such as a nurse navigator. This can change over time as your health care needs change.
A treatment plan is a summary of your cancer and the planned cancer treatment. It is meant to give basic information about your medical history to any doctors who will care for you during your lifetime. Before treatment begins, ask your doctor for a copy of your treatment plan. You can also provide your doctor with a copy of the ASCO Treatment Plan form to fill out.
Learn more about making treatment decisions.
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Physical Emotional And Social Effects Of Cancer
In general, cancer and its treatment cause physical symptoms and side effects, as well as emotional, social, and financial effects. Managing all of these effects is called palliative care or supportive care. It is an important part of your care that is included along with treatments intended to slow, stop, or eliminate the cancer.
Supportive care focuses on improving how you feel during treatment by managing symptoms and supporting patients and their families with other, non-medical needs. Any person, regardless of age or type and stage of cancer, may receive this type of care. And it often works best when it is started right after a cancer diagnosis. People who receive supportive care along with treatment for the cancer often have less severe symptoms, better quality of life, and report that they are more satisfied with treatment.
Supportive care treatments vary widely and often include medication, nutritional changes, relaxation techniques, emotional and spiritual support, and other therapies.
Music therapy, meditation, stress management, and yoga for reducing anxiety and stress.
Meditation, relaxation, yoga, massage, and music therapy for depression and to improve other mood problems.
Meditation and yoga to improve general quality of life.
Acupressure and acupuncture to help with nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy.
I Was Told To Expect Two Years
to feel back to normal, but I am three years out from chemo, and I still have joint pain, neuropathy, and digestive problems. I have the sneaking suspicion that this may be the new normal! Better than the alternative, but still not very fun.
ETA welcome to Timothy! You can create a new post if you like, to introduce yourself. Gives people a chance to say hello!
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Side Effects Of Breast Cancer Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy usually works by attacking rapidly dividing cells. This means that chemotherapy can harm not only cancer cells but also healthy cells that are dividing rapidly, like the ones that cause your hair to grow.
Whether you have side effects from breast cancer chemotherapy will depend on the details of your treatment plan. The care teams at MSK are committed to helping you feel your best during and after treatment. During treatment, well watch carefully for your reaction to the drugs and adjust the drugs or dose as necessary. Well also continue to monitor you for possible long-term effects after your treatment ends.
We offer a variety of other specialized services to support you during your treatment. Many MSK patients find that our Integrative Medicine Service can be a valuable part of their treatment plan. Programs include massage, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, meditation, visualization, music therapy, and nutritional counseling.
One side effect of chemotherapy can be hair loss. MSK offers scalp cooling to help minimize hair loss. Learn more about scalp cooling, or ask your care team for more information.