Treating Breast Cancer Chemically
Chemotherapy treatments attack cancerous breast cells, directly or indirectly, with the goal of killing them or slowing their growth.
Chemotherapy involves the use of chemical agents to achieve this purpose, and may be administered by itself, or combined with surgery or radiation to maximize results (adjuvant treatment).
Chemotherapy targets the body’s cells that divide quickly—like breast cancer cells—while sparing cells that grow more slowly.
With breast cancer patients, it is used:
- To destroy any remaining cells following surgery to treat early stage invasive tumors
- To treat cancers that have spread (metastatic cancers)
- In advanced stage breast cancers, as a palliative measure to extend life and manage
- Before some surgeries, to shrink the tumor
Comprehensive breast cancer treatment plans
The integration of chemotherapy into breast cancer treatment involves a multidisciplinary approach to cancer care. Specialists involved include physicians with the appropriate surgical expertise, radiation oncologists and medical oncologists.
Together this team reviews the specifics of a patient’s tumor (type, stage) and the patient’s overall medical condition to recommend the approach with the best chance of eradicating the tumor.
In the case of those patients with tumors too advanced to cure, the team may recommend an approach which will allow a patient to do as well as possible for as long as possible (palliative treatment).