- Guide to Breast Cancer
- Take the Breast Cancer Quiz
- Young Women & Breast Cancer
- Find a local Oncologist in your town
- How is chemotherapy given?
- When is chemotherapy given?
- Can I still work while receiving chemotherapy treatments?
- How will I know if the chemotherapy treatments are working?
- What are the potential side effects of chemotherapy drugs?
- How will chemotherapy affect my menstrual cycle?
- What is menopause?
- How does chemotherapy influence the onset of menopause?
- Will my menstrual flow be different after chemotherapy?
- Will my periods return after chemotherapy?
- Can I get pregnant while I'm receiving chemotherapy?
- What is the safest type of birth control during chemotherapy?
- After I've completed chemotherapy, how long must I wait before trying to get pregnant?
- Are there risks of chromosomal abnormalities or cancer in children conceived after chemotherapy?
Quick GuideBreast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment
Can I Still Work While Receiving Chemotherapy Treatments?
Yes. Most people are able to continue working while they are being treated with chemotherapy. It may be possible to schedule your treatments later in the day or right before the weekend so they don't interfere as much with your work schedule. You may have to adjust your work schedule while receiving chemotherapy, especially if you have side effects.
How Will I Know If The Chemotherapy Treatments Are Working?
Some people may think that their chemotherapy treatment is not working if they do not experience side effects. This is just a myth. Chemotherapy does not have to cause side effects in order to be effective against cancer cells.
If you are receiving adjuvant chemotherapy (after surgery that removed all of the known cancer), it is not possible for your doctor to directly determine whether the treatment is working because there are no tumors left to assess. However, adjuvant chemotherapy treatments have proved helpful in studies in which some women were given chemotherapy while others were not. Women given adjuvant chemotherapy have had their cancers recur less often if they received such chemotherapy treatments. Recurrent breast cancer is virtually always incurable. Adjuvant chemotherapy is given to reduce the risk of a cancer recurrence. It attempts to increase the chance that a patient with breast cancer will be cured.
After completing adjuvant therapy, your doctor will evaluate your progress through periodic physical examinations, routine mammography, and appropriate testing if a new problem develops. If you are receiving chemotherapy for metastatic disease, progress will be monitored by blood tests, scans, and/or X-rays.
What Are The Potential Side Effects Of Chemotherapy Drugs?
The specific side effects you will experience depend on the type and amount of medications you are given and how long you will be taking them. The most common temporary side effects include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Hair loss
- Mouth sores
- Changes in menstrual cycle
- Higher risk of infection (due to decreased white blood cells)
- Bruising or bleeding
Ask your healthcare provider about specific side effects you can expect from your specific chemotherapy medicines. Also, discuss with your provider any side effects that are troubling you, or that you feel unable to manage.