- What Is It?
- Success Factors
- How Chemo Works
- Chemo Drugs
- Chemo Duration
- Side Effects
Studies reported that people undergoing chemotherapy every two weeks are:
- 17 percent less likely to have recurrent breast cancer, and
- 15 percent less likely to die from breast cancer within 10 years than those who did not receive chemotherapy.
What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is a malignant disease where the tumor cells (cancer-causing cells) grow numerously in the tissues.
Breast cancers are the most commonly diagnosed cancers globally. Studies report that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and one in 39 cases of breast cancer may result in death.
What is chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy uses powerful medications to destroy cancer cells. The effect of chemotherapy is cumulative and may occasionally affect fast-growing healthy cells, resulting in side effects.
The use of combination therapy depends on the following:
- Type of cancer
- How fast the tumor spreads
- Site of cancer cells
- The overall health of the person
- Personal preferences
What factors affect the success of chemotherapy?
Several factors can influence the success of chemotherapy and a person's chance of survival, such as:
- Cancer grade
- Cancer stage
- Other health conditions
- Overall health status
How does chemotherapy work against cancer?
Chemotherapy is effective in the following ways:
- Decreases the chance of recurrence and slows down tumor growth
- Prevents the spread of cancer cells to other organs
- Helps decrease the tumor size and relieves pain and other symptoms
- Administered orally or intravenously
- Combined with other additional treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy, or hormone therapy
- Treats advanced breast cancers that have spread to other parts of the body
- In advanced breast cancer, chemotherapy improves the quality of life of people
What are the drugs used in chemotherapy to treat breast cancer?
Chemotherapy drugs are categorized based on their mechanism, chemical structure, and interactions with other drugs.
Chemotherapy drugs come in different forms, such as:
- Pills or swallowing liquids
- Intramuscular or intracutaneous shots
- Direct infusion into organs
- Intravenous infusions
The following are the various drugs used in chemotherapy:
- Taxanes, such as paclitaxel and docetaxel
- Anthracyclines, such as doxorubicin and epirubicin
- Antimetabolites, such as:
Antimetabolites interfere with the action of DNA and RNA and affect the function of normal building blocks of RNA and DNA. This hinders the copying mechanism of DNA. These are used to treat breast, ovarian, intestinal, and leukemia tumors.
How long does chemotherapy last?
Chemotherapy requires a few sessions. For example, in a four-week cycle, one week of treatment and three weeks of rest. The one-week treatment destroys cancer cells, and the body may make healthy cells during the three-week rest period.
The effect of treatment lasts for a few weeks to months depending on the following factors:
- Type of cancer
- Type of chemo administered
- How well the body responds to chemo
- Type of drugs used
What are the side effects of chemotherapy?
There are various side effects of chemotherapy, such as:
- Hair loss
- Mouth sores
- Loss of appetite
These side effects can be treated once the treatment is finished.
Long-term side effects
Chemotherapy for breast cancer. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/chemotherapy-for-breast-cancer/about/pac-20384931
Impact of Adjuvant Chemotherapy on Breast Cancer Survival: A Real-World Population. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4516355/
Breast Cancer Survival Rates. https://www.webmd.com/breast-cancer/guide/breast-cancer-survival-rates
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What you should know about breast cancer
- Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women.
- One in every eight women in the United States develops breast cancer.
- There are many types of breast cancer that differ in their capability of spreading (metastasize) to other body tissues.
- The causes of breast cancer are unknown, although medical professionals have identified a number of risk factors.
- There are 11 common types of breast cancer and 4 uncommon types of breast cancer.
- Breast cancer early signs and symptoms include
- a lump in the breast or armpit,
- bloody nipple discharge,
- inverted nipple,
- orange-peel texture or dimpling of the breast's skin (peau d'orange),
- breast pain or sore nipple,
- swollen lymph nodes in the neck or armpit, and
- a change in the size or shape of the breast or nipple.
- Breast cancer can also be symptom free, which makes following national screening recommendations an important practice.
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- Treatment of breast cancer depends on the type of cancer and its stage (0-IV) and may involve surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy.
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