Other Drug Treatments For Cancer
The traditional drugs used for chemotherapy are an important part of treatment for many cancers. The drugs affect both cancer cells and healthy cells. But scientists have designed newer drugs that work more specifically to treat cancer. These treatments cause different side effects.
Doctors may use these newer cancer drugs as the only drug treatment. But they are often added to traditional chemotherapy. These types of treatment include:
Hormonal therapy. These treatments change the amount of hormones in your body. Hormones are chemicals your body makes naturally. They help control the activity of certain cells or organs. Doctors use hormonal therapy because hormone levels control several types of cancers. These include some breast and prostate cancers.
Targeted therapy. These treatments target and disable genes or proteins found in cancer cells that the cancer cells need to grow.
Immunotherapy. This type of treatment helps your bodyâs natural defenses fight the cancer. Immunotherapy is now an important part of treatment for several types of cancer and will play an increasingly important role in treatment in the future.
How Does Chemotherapy Treat Cancer
Doctors use chemotherapy in different ways at different times. These include:
Before surgery or radiation therapy to shrink tumors. This is called neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
After surgery or radiation therapy to destroy any remaining cancer cells. This is called adjuvant chemotherapy.
As the only treatment. For example, to treat cancers of the blood or lymphatic system, such as leukemia and lymphoma.
For cancer that comes back after treatment, called recurrent cancer.
For cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, called metastatic cancer.
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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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Before Starting Ac Chemotherapy
Before starting your treatment some hospitals will arrange a chemotherapy information session. At this appointment a nurse will discuss how and when your chemotherapy will be given and how side effects can be managed.
You may have bloods tests and some people will have an ECG , a simple test that checks your heart rhythm. Your height and weight will also be measured.
Contact numbers will be given so you know who to phone if you have any questions or concerns.
Vitamins To Avoid During Radiation Therapy
Your radiation oncologist may tell you to avoid taking certain antioxidant vitamin supplements, such as vitamins C, A, D, and E, while youre having radiation therapy. These vitamins might interfere with radiations ability to destroy cancer cells.This is because radiation works in part by creating free radicals highly energized molecules that damage cancer cells. Free radicals in the environment can damage all cells, but in the case of radiation treatment they are focused on the cancer cells. Antioxidants help keep free radicals from forming or neutralize them if they do form.
Because of the potential conflict between the goal of radiation therapy and the goal of antioxidants , it makes sense to stop taking any antioxidant supplements during radiation therapy. When radiation is finished, you can resume taking your supplements.
Throughout your treatment, do your best to eat a well-balanced diet that contains all of the vitamins you need. Vitamins that come naturally from food are unlikely to interfere with treatment.
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Treatment Of Breast Cancer Stages I
The stage of your breast cancer is an important factor in making decisions about your treatment.
Most women with breast cancer in stages I, II, or III are treated with surgery, often followed by radiation therapy. Many women also get some kind of systemic drug therapy . In general, the more the breast cancer has spread, the more treatment you will likely need. But your treatment options are affected by your personal preferences and other information about your breast cancer, such as:
- If the cancer cells have hormone receptors. That is, if the cancer is estrogen receptor -positive or progesterone receptor -positive.
- If the cancer cells have large amounts of the HER2 protein
- How fast the cancer is growing
- Your overall health
- If you have gone through menopause or not
Talk with your doctor about how these factors can affect your treatment options.
Whats An Oncotype Dx Test
To decide whether or not you need chemotherapy, youll likely take an Oncotype DX test, which evaluates your risk factors and arrives at a recurrence number , which then falls somewhere on an Oncotype sliding scale. Heres how to interpret the numbers if you are a younger woman with breast cancer:
Recurrence Score of 0-15: The cancer has a low risk of recurrence. The benefits of chemotherapy likely will not outweigh the risks of side effects.
Recurrence Score of 16-20: The cancer has a low to medium risk of recurrence. The benefits of chemotherapy likely will not outweigh the risks of side effects.
Recurrence Score of 21-25: The cancer has a medium risk of recurrence. The benefits of chemotherapy are likely to be greater than the risks of side effects.
Recurrence Score of 26-100: The cancer has a high risk of recurrence. The benefits of chemotherapy are likely to be greater than the risks of side effects.
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Why Breast Cancer Neutropenia Happens
Chemo is strong medicine that doesnât just affect your cancer.
âChemotherapy works against cancer cells because it is designed to kill cells that are rapidly dividing, like cancer cells,â Chen says. âBut some of the healthy cells in your body also divide quickly, including white blood cells called neutrophils that are very important in the bodyâs defense against infection.â
When bacteria or viruses enter your body, âneutrophils are among the first cells to respond, quickly dividing to mount an immune response,â Chen says. âSo theyâre very vulnerable to medications that kill rapidly dividing cells.â
Just remember that itâs to be expected with chemo. âNeutropenia tends to follow a pretty typical pattern, and your doctor will know how to manage it,â Chen says.
How You Have Chemotherapy
You usually have treatment into your bloodstream .
You might have treatment through a long plastic tube that goes into a large vein in your chest. The tube stays in place throughout the course of treatment. This can be a:
If you dont have a central line you might have treatment through a thin short tube . The cannula goes into a vein in your arm each time you have treatment.
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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.
Investigations For Stages Of Breast Cancer
The following procedures may be necessary to check for metastasis:-
So, after a breast cancer diagnosis, while in general, the outlook is favorable , it should really be considered a chronic condition.
But the progression is not going to be the same for everyone, even for patients with similar stages of breast cancer presentation. It is SO important to remember that each case is individual. Indeed breast cancer has been known to return even 20 years after a mastectomy, whilst in others, the progression and systemic development of the disease may be rapid.
Are you considering having NO treatment?
Anxiety, fear, panic, anger and sadness are all common emotions following a breast cancer diagnosis. If you are in the middle of a combination of these feelings, today is not a good day to make important decisions.
Here is my quick imagine a way this all gets better line of reasoning, to help you. Firstly, treatments are so effective nowadays and very well organized. Cancer research and treatments are improving all the time and the people who treat breast cancer are experienced experts.
Give the team some trust and time to explain things properly and accept the treatments. Do one step at a time, one day at a time, and you will be amazed at the results.
Add onto that the following self-help methods:-
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Chemotherapy For Metastatic Breast Cancer
Advances in treatment are making it possible for women with metastatic breast cancer to live for many years. New drug therapies can not only slow down or stop a tumors growth but also keep symptoms at bay.
Which treatment your doctor recommends will vary based on your medical history, age, and breast cancer type, among other factors. Combinations of drugs are commonly prescribed for women with early-stage disease. Most women with advanced breast cancer generally receive only one drug at a time.
Chemotherapy drugs that MSK doctors commonly prescribe for advanced breast cancer include:
Women with advanced disease can also benefit from genomic testing. This is also called tumor sequencing or molecular profiling. It is offered to all MSK patients with metastatic breast cancer. Genomic testing involves looking at the cancer cells to see if there are any genetic mutations that could be linked to the specific type of breast cancer you have.
Our experts use a highly sophisticated testing approach developed by MSK researchers called MSK-IMPACT. The information gained from MSK-IMPACT can help us personalize your care. We can rule out drug therapies that may not work for you or sometimes recommend cutting-edge clinical trials designed to target the specific mutations in your tumor.
Radiation Therapy Timing And Breast Reconstruction
The timing of radiation treatment in your overall breast cancer treatment plan depends on your individual situation and the characteristics of the breast cancer.
In many cases, radiation therapy is given after surgery. If chemotherapy is planned after surgery, radiation usually follows chemotherapy.
If youre having mastectomy and have decided to have breast reconstruction, its important to know that radiation can cause a reconstructed breast to lose volume and change color, texture, and appearance.
In particular, radiation therapy is known to cause complications with implant reconstruction. Research also suggests that a reconstructed breast may interfere with radiation therapy reaching the area affected by cancer, though this can vary on a case-by-case basis.
For these reasons, some surgeons advise waiting until after radiation and other treatments, such as chemotherapy, are completed before breast reconstruction surgery is done.
Other surgeons may recommend a more staged approach, which places a tissue expander after mastectomy to preserve the shape of the breast during radiation treatments. Once radiation is completed and the tissues have recovered, the expander that was used to maintain the shape of the breast is removed and replaced with tissue from another part of the body or a breast implant.
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How Does Chemotherapy Work
Chemotherapy stops cells from growing. Fast growing cells, like cancer cells, are most likely to be affected by chemotherapy drugs. Normal cells can be affected too, and that is why some people experience side effects with treatment. Normal cells recover from chemotherapy treatment but cancer cells dont recover as effectively.
Surgery alone or surgery combined with radiotherapy is an effective treatment for cancer that is limited to the area of the breast, chest and lymph glands. Chemotherapy is recommended when there is a chance that cancer cells have moved past the breast and lymph glands. Because chemotherapy drugs circulate in the blood stream, they can treat cancer cells that have spread further.
Your doctor will talk to you about your individual situation and why chemotherapy may be particularly beneficial for you.
Who Is On My Chemotherapy Team
A highly trained medical team will work together to give you the best possible care. Your team may include these health care professionals:
Medical oncologist. This type of doctor specializes in treating cancer with medication. Your medical oncologist works closely with other team members to create your overall cancer treatment plan. They also lead your chemotherapy treatments.
Advanced providers, like oncology nurse practitioners and oncology physician assistants . These providers meet with patients and collaborate with a supervising medical oncologist. Their responsibilities can include:
Giving physical examinations
Ordering and interpreting laboratory and diagnostic test results
Prescribing and administering medications and other therapies, including chemotherapy
Providing education and counseling for patients and families
Oncology nurse. An oncology nurse specializes in cancer care. This includes giving chemotherapy. Oncology nurses can also:
Answer questions about treatment
Monitor your health during treatment
Help you manage side effects of treatment
Other health care professionals. Other team members may help care for your physical, emotional, and social needs during chemotherapy. These professionals include:
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Time To Chemotherapy After Surgery
After surgery for early-stage breast cancer, many women also have adjuvant chemotherapy .
The period of time between surgery and chemotherapy depends somewhat on how well someone does with surgery since the surgical site needs to be relatively well-healed before chemotherapy begins. But once the incision are healed, what is the optimal time to begin this treatment?
How Does Ac Chemotherapy Work
Chemotherapy drugs interfere with how cancer cells develop and grow, and different drugs do this in different ways.
AC chemotherapy works by stopping the cancer cells from dividing and multiplying, which blocks the growth of the cancer.
Different chemotherapy drugs attack cancer cells at different stages of their growth. This is why a combination of drugs is often used instead of a single drug.
AC chemotherapy is a systemic treatment, which means it affects cells throughout the body.
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How Chemotherapy Is Used
Doctors use chemotherapy in several ways to treat to treat all stages of breast cancer. Whether or not a doctor recommends chemotherapy for you depends on the breast cancer’s characteristics, your health history, and your personal preferences.
Doctors call chemotherapy given after surgery adjuvant chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is given after surgery to destroy any cancer cells that may have been left behind or may have travelled to other places in the body. These single cells or groups of two or three cells are very small and don’t appear on imaging tests. Chemotherapy after surgery reduces the risk of the cancer coming back, called recurrence by doctors.
Doctors dont recommend chemotherapy after surgery for everyone diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, except in the following situations:
If there are cancer cells in the lymph nodes near the affected breast, doctors may recommend chemotherapy.
If the cancer has characteristics that make it more aggressive, such as being hormone receptor-negative or HER2-positive, doctors usually recommend chemotherapy.
If youre a pre-menopausal woman, your doctor is more likely to recommend chemotherapy because breast cancer in pre-menopausal women tends to be more aggressive.
Doctors call chemotherapy given before surgery neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is given before surgery to shrink large cancers, which may:
breast cancers that have spread to the lymph nodes
Combination Drug Therapy For Early
Combination drug therapy means that you receive more than one type of drug at a time.
Combining drug therapies allows your care team to increase the chances that your treatment will be effective against the breast cancer. If a tumor becomes resistant to one drug, your treatment may still be effective because the tumor responds to the second or third drug in the combination you receive.
Combination therapy can be given before or after breast surgery. Most women receive a combination of two or three drugs at the same time. Some of these drugs are breast cancer targeted therapies. These drugs work by targeting specific molecules involved in breast cancer development.
Here are some of the drug combinations that MSKs medical oncologists commonly prescribe:
- Doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide, followed by paclitaxel
- Used to treat early-stage breast cancer, particularly in younger women or women with aggressive disease
- Given intravenously before or after surgery
- Doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide, followed by paclitaxel and trastuzumab
- Used to treat early-stage HER2-positive breast cancer
- Given intravenously before or after surgery
- Doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide, followed by paclitaxel, trastuzumab, and pertuzumab
- Used to treat early-stage breast cancer
- Given intravenously before or after surgery
- Used to treat early-stage breast cancer
- Given intravenously or by pill after surgery, depending on what your doctor recommends
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