Sunday, February 18, 2024

How Long Do You Take Chemo Pills For Breast Cancer

Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer

Having chemotherapy for breast cancer – patient guide

Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer drugs that may be given intravenously or by mouth. The drugs travel through the bloodstream to reach cancer cells in most parts of the body. Sometimes, if cancer spreads to the spinal fluid, which surrounds and cushions the brain and spinal cord, chemo may be given directly into in this area .

On this page

Practical Hints For Menopausal Symptoms

  • If you have breast cancer, we DON’T recommend hormone replacement therapy.
  • Eat soy products or take vitamin E to reduce hot flashes.
  • Your doctor may recommend prescription medications for hot flashes.
  • Wear light cotton pajamas to help prevent overheating when sleeping.
  • Use vaginal moisturizers on a regular basis or other water-based lubricants as needed, especially during and before sexual activity. These products will help with vaginal dryness and irritation.

Here Are Some Important Things To Know When Beginning A Course Of Oral Chemotherapy:

  • Providers and patients should expect that getting OAMs may require some extra time and advocacy effort.
  • A 2018 study by several Fox Chase Cancer Center physicians showed that both providers and patients face barriers to starting oral chemotherapy when it comes to insurance. This is largely due to the fact that insurers cover OAMs as a prescription drug benefit, whereas IV chemotherapy is covered as a medical procedure. The distinction can lead to delays from the time an OAM is prescribed until the patient receives the medication. These delays can last days or even weeks. The researchers found that the process was labor intensive, taking an average of two weeks and five phone calls for a patient to start a drug.

    Additionally, the study found that out-of-pocket costs could vary and required a lot of staff support to mitigate these costs through financial assistance. Many medical centers like Fox Chase offer financial counselors and insurance advocates to help patients and providers navigate this process.

    Being treated for cancer in the comfort of home is a big convenience for patients. But its important to remember that OAMs are powerful drugs and should be taken with the same care as traditional chemotherapy given in a hospital setting.

    You May Like: Chances Of Getting Colon Cancer

    What Is The Treatment For Breast Cancer

    Chemotherapy may also be given as the main treatment for women whose cancer has spread to other parts of the body outside of the breast and lymph nodes. This spread is known as metastatic breast cancer and occurs in a small number of women at the time of diagnosis or when the cancer recurs some time after initial treatment for localized breast

    What To Expect During Chemotherapy

    Breast Cancer Update 3

    Having your first chemotherapy treatment can be scary, but knowing what to expect can help lessen any anxiety you might be feeling.

    Bringing a friend or family member with you can help because they can provide support and be an extra set of ears for information that is given to you by your providers about your treatments and side effects.

    In some cases, you will also need a ride home because you might be given medications that can make you sleep during your treatment.

    Once you have arrived at the place where you will receive your treatment, you may have to meet with your oncologist or other health professionals. They will check your vital signs, including your blood pressure, pulse, breathing, and temperature.

    Your height and weight will also be taken to help make sure that the proper dose of chemotherapy is given to you.

    You May Like: Breast Cancer Of The Nipple

    After Breast Cancer Treatment What Next

    I am wondering what type of follow-up care is done after you have finished your breast cancer treatment?

    I am looking forward to spring and being does with treatments but anxious about what happens next. I am sure this varies depending on your type of cancer and what clinic you are receiving your treatment at. I have ER/PR+ , HER- breast cancer with 2 positive lymph nodes. I had a lumpectomy and the two lymph nodes removed in Sept 2018 and have one chemo treatment left and then I will start radiation at Mayo Rochester.

    I will ask these questions to oncologist on next visit, but would like to know what post treatment care people have received so I can ask right questions.

    Some of questions I have are?

    Do your continue to see your oncologist after treatment is done or does you primary care physician take care of treating side effects and answer questions once done with treatment?

    If I decide to take hormone therapy after treatment, does oncologist or primary care doctor monitor?

    How often do you have mammograms? Do you just get screening mammograms or does your doctor order other screening tests?

    Are there tests that they run to make sure cancer has not spread to other parts of your body or additional lymph nodes?

    Thanks for your input

    Blessings to you on finishing your chemo, then having radiation. Keep thinking and asking questions, paying attention to your body, and holding onto your loved ones.

    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.

    You May Like: Radiation Therapy Programs In California

    Understanding Your Drugs Is Important

    Before beginning oral chemotherapy, talk with your doctor or nurse to learn how this medicine will affect your body. You should know:

    • The name of the medicine
    • How the medicine works
    • When to take the oral chemotherapy
    • Dose, frequency, and when the prescription will need to be refilled
    • Best time of day to take the drug
    • Whether to take the drug before or after a meal or snack.
    • Whether any other drugs, supplements, or vitamins you are taking may interfere with the anti-cancer drug.
    • What to do if you miss a dose
    • Who to call if you have questions.

    Check with your local pharmacy to find out whether your oral chemotherapy can be filled there, or if it must be ordered by mail. Oral chemotherapy can be costly, so it is also important to find out about insurance coverage.

    What Are The Side Effects Of Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer

    What to Expect from 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.

    Recommended Reading: Cancer In The Bone Marrow

    Other Treatments Your Doctor May Consider

    In addition to chemo, your doctor may consider other cancer treatments such as:

    • Targeted therapies target specific cancer proteins and receptors to destroy the cancer cells and prevent them from spreading.
    • Immunotherapy uses drugs that boost your immune system, so its able to destroy cancer cells before they grow.
    • Hormone therapy stops certain cancers from using hormones needed to grow, such as in the case of breast, uterine, and prostate cancers.

    The goal is to target cancer cells when they may be most active while also allowing your body recovery time to build healthy ones.

    Still, your exact treatment plan depends on the:

    • type of cancer you have
    • stage of cancer
    • types of chemo drugs used, and whether youre taking other drugs, such as targeted therapies
    • primary reason youre taking chemo for example, to prevent tumor spread or to alleviate pain.
    • how your cancer responds to the treatment
    • how you tolerate the treatment
    • other possible health conditions you may have, such as diabetes or heart conditions

    With all of these factors in mind, its difficult to predict an exact timeline for when chemotherapy will start working. This treatment may work immediately for some people, while it may take several rounds over the course of many months for others.

    Practical Hints For Fatigue

    • Plan your activities, such as grocery shopping, for a time when you feel the best.
    • If you have children, rest when they are napping. When you feel most tired, consider hiring a babysitter for a few hours so that you can relax or take a nap.
    • Take naps early in the day so you do not disturb your sleep pattern at night.
    • Consider exercising every day or several times a week. Good forms of exercise include swimming, walking and yoga. Contact the Patient and Family Cancer Support Center for information on free exercise classes.

    You May Like: Memorial Hospital For Cancer And Allied Diseases

    Adherence: Carefully Following Instructions

    Taking a pill to treat your cancer may sound easier than it is. Non-adherence, or not taking the drug correctly and on time, may have serious consequences, including the inability to treat your cancer and/or harm caused to yourself or others. Patients who choose to self-administer their chemotherapy must be committed to doing so correctly, and need to be organized enough to follow through on that commitment.

    Chemotherapy drugs may be toxic and must be stored and handled very carefully. They must be kept away from children. You may have to wear gloves when handling them. You must be able to follow all safety precautions.

    You also need to take oral chemotherapy drugs according to precise instructions. Some need to be taken at a certain time every day, with or without food. Others may need to be taken on a rotating schedule, similar to that of an infusion schedule, depending on your treatment regimen. Its even more challenging if, like many patients, youre juggling multiple medications, especially if the schedule differs daily and/or weekly.

    The ability to do this is crucial, however. Not taking chemotherapy drugs correctly could increase their toxicity, which is very dangerous, or it could decrease the absorption, which means youre not getting the right amount to treat your cancer. Missed doses mean the drugs cant adequately fight cancer.

    Even with the best of intentions, it may be difficult to properly adhere to an oral treatment regimen.

    How Long Does Chemotherapy Take

    End Stage Breast Cancer Timeline

    Chemotherapy is a treatment that utilizes powerful chemical medications to kill cells that are rapidly growing in the body. Certain types of chemotherapy can be used to treat non-cancer conditions such as lupus, scleroderma, and rheumatoid arthritis.

    However, chemo is typically reserved for cancer because cancer cells can multiply and grow much faster than other cells.

    Verywell / Ellen Lindner

    Many factors determine how long chemo will take, such as the type of cancer, how much it has progressed, and how a person responds to the treatment.

    Read on to find out more about the length of time it takes to undergo chemotherapy.

    Also Check: Cancer Lump On Labia Majora

    Why Is Chemotherapy Used For Breast Cancer

    Not everyone who has breast cancer needs chemotherapy. Depending on the cancer stage, your oncologist may recommend chemotherapy:

    • Before surgery : You may have chemotherapy to shrink a tumor. This option could make it possible to have a less-extensive surgery. It may also allow healthcare providers to discover more about the biology of the cancer itself by how it responds to chemotherapy.
    • After surgery : Sometimes, cancerous cells remain in your body but dont show up on imaging tests. Your healthcare provider may recommend chemotherapy after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells. This treatment can also reduce the risk of the cancer from returning .
    • For advanced cancer: If breast cancer has spread to other parts of your body , chemotherapy may be the main treatment.
    • For IBC: Inflammatory breast cancer doesnt have a lump that a surgeon can remove easily. Chemotherapy often is the first treatment for IBC.

    Practical Hints For Hair Loss

    • It is not always necessary to buy a real wig. Synthetic wigs can look as good and are less expensive, easier to care for, lighter in weight and may be more comfortable to wear.
    • Before possible hair loss, some people like to cut their hair short. The hair loss won’t be quite so shocking if there is less hair to lose.
    • Put a towel over your pillow so that clean up in the morning will be easier while you are shedding your hair.
    • Buy a drain catch for your shower. Other people choose to shave their head hair when hair loss begins.
    • Refer to our wig information sheet for places to shop near you.
    • Refer to the Friend to Friend Gift Shop or the Cancer Resource Center for more information.
    • When buying a wig, take a friend for emotional support and maybe even a laugh!

    Recommended Reading: What To Expect After Chemo

    How Does Chemotherapy Work Does It Kill Cancer Cells

    Chemotherapy drugs work by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells. These medications target cells that grow and divide quickly.

    Unlike surgery or radiation therapy which targets specific areas, chemotherapy treatment can work throughout the body. Therefore, chemotherapy drugs can also affect fast-growing healthy cells, such as cells in the skin, hair, intestines, and bone marrow.

    Thats why chemo causes side effects like hair loss, nausea, vomiting, appetite changes, anemia, and easy bleeding.

    Are There Ways To Prevent Hair Loss With Chemotherapy

    Chemotherapy

    Not everyone loses hair when receiving chemotherapy, but many people do. Some peoples hair only thins. Others lose the majority or all of their hair.

    Using a cold cap can reduce hair loss. Cold caps cool your scalp before, during and after chemotherapy treatment. Cooling tightens the blood vessels in your scalp, potentially reducing how much chemotherapy goes to your hair follicles.

    People may choose to wear a wig as a result of hair loss. Some private insurance companies may help cover wig costs if your doctor prescribes a cranial prosthesis or hair prosthesis. Medicare Parts A and B do not cover wigs, but the costs may be tax-deductible.

    Read Also: Chemo Hair Loss Head Coverings

    How Is Breast Cancer Treated

    Breast cancer is treated in several ways. It depends on the kind of breast cancer and how far it has spread.

    Breast cancer is treated in several ways. It depends on the kind of breast cancer and how far it has spread. People with breast cancer often get more than one kind of treatment.

    • Surgery. An operation where doctors cut out cancer tissue.
    • Chemotherapy. Using special medicines to shrink or kill the cancer cells. The drugs can be pills you take or medicines given in your veins, or sometimes both.
    • Hormonal therapy. Blocks cancer cells from getting the hormones they need to grow.
    • Biological therapy. Works with your bodys immune system to help it fight cancer cells or to control side effects from other cancer treatments.
    • Radiation therapy. Using high-energy rays to kill the cancer cells.

    Doctors from different specialties often work together to treat breast cancer. Surgeons are doctors who perform operations. Medical oncologists are doctors who treat cancer with medicine. Radiation oncologists are doctors who treat cancer with radiation.

    For more information, visit the National Cancer Institutes Breast Cancer Treatment Option Overview.external icon This site can also help you find health care services.external icon

    Take Extra Precautions Before And After Handling Pills

    Remember to wash your hands thoroughly before and after taking the pills. If a caregiver is handling the pills, he/she should not have bare hands. Instead, the caregiver can empty the pills into a cap or small plastic cup, or he/she can wear latex gloves. Only the patient should come in contact with the drugs.

    It is also important not to crush, break, or chew your pills.

    Don’t Miss: Stage 3 Cervical Cancer Treatment

    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.

    Sex Contraception And Pregnancy

    Pin on A Nurse

    If you havent been through the menopause, its important to use contraception because chemotherapy drugs can harm a developing baby in the first three months of pregnancy. Its still possible to become pregnant even if your periods become irregular or stop completely.

    Your specialist will usually recommend barrier methods of contraception, such as condoms. The contraceptive pill is not usually recommended because it contains hormones. Emergency contraception such as the morning after pill can still be used.

    An interuterine device can be used as long as its not the type that releases hormones. If you have a coil in place that does release hormones, such as the Mirena or Jaydess, when youre diagnosed, you may be advised to have this removed.

    Also Check: Do Tumors Grow Back After Radiation

    Latest news
    Related news