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Chemotherapy Breast Cancer - Chemotherapy Treatment for Breast Cancer

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Just hearing the words ‘breast cancer’ is chilling. Thanks to advances in modern medicine, a diagnosis of breast cancer is no longer a death sentence. A few decades ago that was almost certainly the case. Today chemotherapy breast cancer patients have a much higher survival rate. When a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, much depends on the stage of breast cancer as to the length of treatment and the survival rate. Nearly all breast cancer treatment includes use of chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy breast cancer patients rely on the treatment to kill cancer cells. The treatment usually involves a combination of drugs prescribed by a doctor specializing in cancer known as an oncologist. Chemotherapy drugs typically are administered intravenously. It can also be given by mouth. Chemotherapy for breast cancer patients works when the drugs going through the blood stream find and destroy cancer cells that can spread through the entire system. Chemotherapy breast cancer treatment is known as a systemic treatment.

Chemotherapy breast cancer treatment can last up to about a year. Each case is different but it depends on the stage of the cancer and the combination of drugs being used. Chemotherapy is almost always given in cycles. The patient has a chemo treatment and then has recovery time before another treatment is given.

Women receiving chemotherapy breast cancer treatments have regular blood tests to check the level of white blood cells and red blood cells. White blood cells help fight an infection and red blood cells carry oxygen. Doctors also look at the blood platelet count. If platelets are too low, blood won’t clot. Blood results might mean a blood transfusion is needed or treatment delay.

There are three different objectives in chemotherapy breast cancer treatment.

Adjuvant therapy
Chemotherapy is used to kill cancer cells. The treatment is given to patients who have had surgery for the purpose of keeping the cancer from coming back.

Neo-adjuvant therapy
If a tumor is so large that surgery would be more difficult due to size of the mass, then chemotherapy is given in an attempt to shrink the tumor to make it more manageable for surgery.

Metastatic disease
If cancer has spread to other areas of the body it is called metastatic. Chemotherapy breast cancer treatment at this point is intended to send the cancer drugs throughout the body to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy is often used in combination with chemotherapy. Variables involved include the severity of each person’s stage of cancer, what drugs will be used and results interpreted by the doctor.

Breast cancer is diagnosed as to the stage of the disease. The stages progress in severity. Stage 1 breast cancer indicates a mass less than 2 cm. There is no spread of the disease; chemotherapy breast cancer treatment helps predict a 98% survival rate. Stage II breast cancer means that either the tumor has increased in size or it is still the same size but the disease has spread to 3 or less lymph nodes. Chemotherapy breast cancer treatment for Stage II patients results in an 88% survival rate.

A Stage III diagnosis means that the size of the mass is 2-5 cm and has spread to 9 or less lymph nodes with a survival rate of 56%. Stage III can be classified in two segments with Stage IIIB consisting of all the conditions of the first part of Stage III plus a spread of cancer to tissue near the breast or to lymph nodes above the collar bone or attached to the chest wall. Stage IIIA survival rate is 56% while Stage IIIB is slightly lower at 49%. In Stage IV cancer has spread throughout the body to other organs or tissue or lymph nodes near the collar bone. Even with radiation and the strongest drugs for chemotherapy, breast cancer patients in Stage IV survive only 16% of the time.

The American Cancer Society stages breast cancer in a similar fashion with more extensive details within each stage. Refer to the website for more information on survival rates and related breast cancer information.

Women diagnosed with breast cancer continue to have better survival rates due to new technology and advances in the medical field.

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