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How Effective is Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer Treatment?

Chemotherapy treatment utilizes special drugs that are administered either orally or intravenously to destroy cancerous cells. These drugs generally travel to all parts of the body through the bloodstream. Normally, chemotherapy is used for treating early-stage invasive breast cancers. It is designed to eliminate any remaining cancerous cells following surgery & for reducing risk of recurrence of breast cancer. Chemotherapy is also utilized for destroying advanced-stage breast cancer or for the purpose of damaging cancerous cells. Moreover, in some patients, chemotherapy is also given prior to operation in order to shrink the size of cancerous tumors before surgical intervention.

Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer Treatment

Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer

There are many breast cancer situations in which chemotherapy is recommended. However, not all women with breast cancer require chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is commonly needed in the following circumstances.

  • Adjuvant Chemotherapy – This type of chemotherapy is utilized following breast cancer surgery in order to kill cancerous cells that have either remained following operation or have spread to other areas but are not yet visible through imaging tests. Adjuvant chemotherapy also reduces recurrence of breast cancer.
  • Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy – This is given prior to surgery & is usually utilized for shrinking the size of breast tumor so that it can easily be removed without extensive surgery. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is usually applied for treating locally advanced cancers which are too large in size at the time of diagnosis.
  • Chemotherapy for Advanced Breast Cancer – This is the main treatment for breast cancer which has spread outside the area into underarm region. This is usually recognized at the time of diagnosis or after initial treatment. The duration of time for chemotherapy in such cases depends upon the effectiveness of chemo drugs & the patient’s ability to tolerate them.

Chemotherapy Drugs Used for Breast Cancer

Chemotherapy is found to be most effective when combinations of chemo drugs are used. However, doctors nowadays use several different combinations & no single combination is yet recognized as the best. Common chemotherapy drugs used for treating breast cancer include the following. Most often combinations involving 2 or 3 of these drugs are normally used.

  • Carboplatin (Paraplatin)
  • Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan)
  • 5-fluorouracil (5-FU)
  • Taxanes like paclitaxel (Taxol) & docetaxel (Taxotere)
  • Anthracyclines like doxorubicin (Adriamycin) & epirubicin (Ellence)

How is Chemotherapy Administered?

Typically administered intravenously either through injections or through infusion over longer periods of time, chemotherapy for breast cancer is given in cycles so as to allow body time to recover from chemo drugs in between. These cycles usually last for 2 or 3 weeks time. However, schedules vary from one drug to another. Adjuvant & neoadjuvant chemotherapy is usually given for 3 to 6 months of time depending upon the chemo drugs that are being used. Length for advanced breast cancer treatment is usually based upon how well the chemo drug is working & the type of side effects they are generating.

Side Effects of Chemotherapy

Side effects caused due to chemotherapy usually depend upon the type & dosage of drugs administered & the length of treatment. Some of the most common chemotherapy side effects include the following.

  • Hair loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Loss or increase in appetite
  • Mouth sores
  • Nail changes
  • Affecting blood-forming bone marrow cells

However, most of these side effects usually go away once chemotherapy treatment is over. Moreover, doctors can also suggest ways to lessen the intensity of these side effects. Like for example, other drugs may be prescribed which can help reduce or prevent nausea & vomiting.

Other Side Effects of Chemotherapy

  • Neuropathy (nerve damage)
  • Hand-Foot Syndrome
  • Chemo Brain
  • Fatigue (feeling tired or unwell)
  • Heart Damage
  • Menstrual Changes
  • Issues with Fertility
  • Increased Risk of Leukemia

Affordable Chemotherapy Packages with IndianMedTrip

Over the past few decades, India has emerged as a leading healthcare tourism destination for international patients seeking good quality of affordable medical procedures including treatments for cancer like chemotherapy. IndianMedTrip is associated with top doctors & the best accredited cancer hospitals in the country & are therefore well placed to offer high quality of low cost-treatment packages for people from all around the world. Seamless services offered by IndianMedTrip begin with the first conversation when the patient calls up to relate his/her medical problem. Package of services offered by IndianMedTrip include short listing the surgeon & hospital facility for treatment, assisting in obtaining medical visas, warm reception at the airport, provision for local transportation, accommodation options near the treatment facility, scheduling appointments with doctors without any waiting period, recuperating holidays if desired by the patient, follow-up evaluation checks during recovery & an affectionate farewell when the patient is heading back home after a successful outcome.

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