What Is the Success Rate of Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer?

Medically Reviewed on 1/5/2023
Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer
Several factors can influence the success of chemotherapy for breast cancer.

Chemotherapy for breast cancer helps slow the growth of cancer and shrink the size of tumors. Cancer that does not spread beyond the breasts is easy to treat.

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.

According to other studies, invasive breast cancer chemotherapy reduced the risk of cancer by 25 percent and the risk of metastasis by 18 percent.

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.

Various potential drugs are used alone or combined with other therapies, such as surgery, radiation, or hormones, to destroy cancer cells effectively.

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:

  • Age
  • 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:

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.


Breast Cancer Awareness: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment See Slideshow

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:

These side effects can be treated once the treatment is finished.

Long-term side effects

Medically Reviewed on 1/5/2023
Image Source: iStock image

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