Should i do chemotherapy for breast cancer


If your breast cancer has spread to your lymph nodes, your doctor may recommend chemotherapy. Age. Breast cancer that occurs at a younger age may be more aggressive than cancer that develops later in life. So doctors may recommend that younger people with breast cancer undergo chemotherapy.Feb 24, 2021

Why does breast cancer treatment always include chemotherapy?

This type of cancer is typically treated with chemotherapy before a mastectomy, followed by radiation, to decrease the chance of recurrence. If your breast cancer has spread (metastasized) to other parts of your body, radiation therapy may be recommended to shrink the cancer and help control symptoms such as pain.

When should chemotherapy be given to treat breast cancer?

For those with early breast cancer, chemotherapy is usually given after breast surgery (called adjuvant chemotherapy), but before radiation therapy. Adjuvant chemotherapy helps lower the risk of breast cancer recurrence by getting rid of cancer cells that might still be in the body.

Will chemotherapy completely cure breast cancer?

Just like adjuvant chemo, neoadjuvant chemo can lower the risk of breast cancer coming back. Some people with early-stage cancer who get neoadjuvant chemo might live longer if the cancer completely goes away with that treatment. This can be seen most often in women who have triple-negative breast cancer or HER2-positive breast cancer.

What is the success rate of chemotherapy for breast cancer?

Traditional chemotherapy has 2.1% success rate at 5 years out. Another study conducted by HST Global, Inc , found a 75% success rate with Stage IV Breast Cancers. After hours of research on the Internet and several conversations with the companies that produce these products, I am so excited to be able to inform you about these fascinating herbal products.


At what stage of breast cancer is chemotherapy used?

Most women with breast cancer in stages I, II, or III will get some kind of systemic therapy as part of their treatment. This might include: Chemotherapy.

What determines if you need chemo for breast cancer?

Your doctor might recommend chemotherapy (“chemo”) after surgery if: You are younger than 35. Women younger than 35 usually have a more aggressive type of breast cancer. Your breast cancer was bigger than a pea.

Can I refuse chemo for breast cancer?

Although a patient’s decision to refuse cancer treatment may be hard to accept by the physician, this option is well within their rights. Women with a diagnosis of breast cancer can refuse their treatment partly or completely. The reasons for such decisions could be multifactorial.

Does Stage 1 breast cancer need chemo?

Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is not usually offered for stage 1 breast tumours. It may be offered after surgery (called adjuvant therapy) for these tumours if there is a high risk that the cancer will come back (recur). Find out more about the risk of breast cancer recurrence and adjuvant therapy.

Does everyone with breast cancer need chemotherapy?

A federally funded study has found that many women with the most common type of early stage breast cancer likely do not need chemotherapy after surgery.

What type of breast cancer does not need chemo?

The new findings suggest that at least 70 percent of women with HR-positive, HER2-negative, axillary lymph node-negative breast cancer—those with low scores and most of those with mid-range scores—can safely avoid chemotherapy.

Can you survive cancer without chemo?

It found that low-risk patients did well without chemotherapy. That study showed the test could select a cohort of patients with a 99 percent chance of five-year survival without distant metastasis. For those women, the risks of chemotherapy aren’t justifiable.

When is chemo not an option?

Your oncologist may recommend avoiding chemotherapy if your body is not healthy enough to withstand chemotherapy or if there is a more effective treatment available.

How do I know if I need chemotherapy?

For cancer that has spread Your doctor might suggest chemotherapy if there is a chance that your cancer might spread in the future. Or if it has already spread. Sometimes cancer cells break away from a tumour. They may travel to other parts of the body through the bloodstream or lymphatic system.

Is chemo necessary after lumpectomy?

Summary: Most postmenopausal women with small breast tumors don’t need chemotherapy to reduce their recurrence risk after lumpectomy. Most postmenopausal women with small breast tumors don’t need chemotherapy to reduce their recurrence risk after lumpectomy.

How do they determine stage of breast cancer?

Clinical staging is based on the results of tests done before surgery, which may include physical examinations, mammogram, ultrasound, and MRI scans. Pathological staging is based on what is found during surgery to remove breast tissue and lymph nodes. The results are usually available several days after surgery.

Does grade 3 breast cancer need chemo?

If you have grade 3 breast cancer, you’re more likely to be offered chemotherapy. This is to help destroy any cancer cells that may have spread as a result of the cancer being faster growing.

When Is Chemotherapy used?

Not all women with breast cancer will need chemo, but there are several situations in which chemo may be recommended: 1. After surgery (adjuvant ch…

Which Chemotherapy Drugs Are Used For Breast Cancer?

In most cases (especially as adjuvant or neoadjuvant treatment), chemo is most effective when combinations of drugs are used. Today, doctors use ma…

How Is Chemotherapy given?

Chemo drugs for breast cancer are typically given into a vein (IV), either as an injection over a few minutes or as an infusion over a longer perio…

Possible Side Effects of Chemo For Breast Cancer

Chemo drugs can cause side effects. These depend on the type and dose of drugs given, and the length of treatment. Some of the most common possible…

When is chemotherapy used for breast cancer?

Not all women with breast cancer will need chemo, but there are several situations in which chemo may be recommended.

How does chemo work for breast cancer?

Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer. Chemotherapy (chemo) uses anti-cancer drugs that may be given intravenously (injected into your vein) or by mouth. The drugs travel through the bloodstream to reach cancer cells in most parts of the body. Occasionally, chemo may be given directly into the spinal fluid which surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

How long does chemo last?

Adjuvant and neoadjuvant chemo is often given for a total of 3 to 6 months, depending on the drugs used. The length of treatment for advanced breast cancer depends on how well it is working and what side effects you have.

Why do we need chemo before surgery?

Before surgery (neoadjuvant chemotherapy): Neoadjuvant chemo might be given to try to shrink the tumor so it can be removed with less extensive surgery. Because of this, neoadjuvant chemo is often used to treat cancers that are too big to be removed by surgery when first diagnosed (called locally advanced cancers ). Also, by giving chemo before the tumor is removed, doctors can see how the cancer responds to it. If the first set of chemo drugs doesn’t shrink the tumor, your doctor will know that other drugs are needed. It should also kill any cancer cells that have spread but can’t be seen. Just like adjuvant chemo, neoadjuvant chemo can lower the risk of breast cancer coming back.

Where do you give chemo for breast cancer?

This can be done in a doctor’s office, infusion center, or in a hospital setting.

Does neoadjuvant chemo help with breast cancer?

Just like adjuvant chemo, neoadjuvant chemo can lower the risk of breast cancer coming back. For certain types of breast cancer, if there are tumor cells still found at the time of surgery (also called residual disease), you may be offered more chemotherapy after surgery to reduce the chances of the cancer coming back (recurrence).

Can you use paclitaxel with chemo?

Still, some combinations, such as paclitaxel plus gemcitabine, are commonly used to treat advanced breast cancer. For cancers that are HER2-positive, one or more drugs that target HER2 may be used with chemo.

What is neoadjuvant therapy for cancer?

Neoadjuvant therapy is often used for: Inflammatory breast cancer. HER2-positive breast cancer. Triple-negative breast cancer.

How long does it take to get chemo for breast cancer?

Typically, if you have early-stage breast cancer, you’ll undergo chemotherapy treatments for three to six months, but your doctor will adjust the timing to your circumstances. If you have advanced breast cancer, treatment may continue beyond six months.

How does chemo help with breast cancer?

Chemotherapy for breast cancer uses drugs to target and destroy breast cancer cells. These drugs are usually injected directly into a vein through a needle or taken by mouth as pills.

What is the best treatment for breast cancer?

This is known as adjuvant chemotherapy.

What are the health problems that affect chemo?

Certain health problems, such as heart disease or diabetes, may affect which drugs are selected for your chemotherapy. Hormone receptor status. If your cancer cells have receptors for the hormones estrogen and progesterone, your doctor may recommend hormone therapy in addition to chemotherapy. HER2 status.

Can you use chemotherapy for breast cancer?

If breast cancer has spread to other parts of your body and surgery isn’t an option, chemotherapy can be used as the primary treatment. It may be used in combination with targeted therapy.

How to talk to someone who has cancer?

It may also help to talk with someone who has been in the same situation. Connect with others through a hotline, support group or online community for people who have been treated for cancer.

What is the treatment for breast cancer?

Chemotherapy may also be given as the main treatment for women whose cancer has spread to other parts of the body outside of the breast and lymph nodes. This spread is known as metastatic breast cancer and occurs in a small number of women at the time of diagnosis or when the cancer recurs some time after initial treatment for localized breast …

How is chemo given for breast cancer?

How is chemotherapy given for breast cancer? Chemotherapy drugs are given intravenously (directly into the vein) or orally (by mouth). Once the drugs enter the bloodstream, they are delivered to all parts of the body to reach cancer cells that may have spread beyond the breast.

How long does chemotherapy last?

When given after surgery, the entire chemotherapy treatment generally lasts three to six months, depending on the type of drugs given. When chemotherapy is being used …

What is the main effect of chemotherapy?

In cancer treatment, chemotherapy refers to the use of drugs whose main effect is either to kill or to slow the growth of rapidly multiplying cancer cells. Chemotherapy often includes using a combination of drugs, since this approach is more effective than using a single drug alone. There are many drug combinations used to treat breast cancer.

What are the side effects of a syringe?

The specific side effects you may experience will depend on the type and amount of medications you are given and how long you are taking them. The most common temporary side effects include: 1 Nausea and vomiting 2 Loss of appetite 3 Hair loss 4 Mouth sores 5 Higher risk of infection (due to decreased white blood cells) 6 Bruising or bleeding 7 Fatigue 8 Changes in menstrual cycle 9 Premature menopause (not having any more menstrual periods) and infertility (not being able to become pregnant) are potential permanent complications of chemotherapy. 10 Heart damage can be a permanent complication of some chemotherapy.

What are the complications of chemotherapy?

Fatigue. Changes in menstrual cycle. Premature menopause (not having any more menstrual periods) and infertility (not being able to become pregnant) are potential permanent complications of chemotherapy.

Can you get chemotherapy after a mastectomy?

When breast cancer is localized only to the breast or lymph nodes, chemotherapy may be given after a lumpecto my or mastectomy. This is known as adjuvant treatment and may help reduce the chance of breast cancer recurrence. Chemotherapy may also be given as the main treatment for women whose cancer has spread to other parts of the body outside …

What if cancer is detected in the lymph nodes?

If your breast surgeon detects cancer in your lymph nodes before surgery, there may be specific advantages to undergoing “neoadjuvant chemotherapy.”

Do my “receptors” suggest I need chemotherapy?

This information is critical in guiding what further therapies may be needed before or after surgery, such as chemotherapy or hormonal therapy. Learn more about “ My Tumor Receptors “ with our video lesson ( here) on the subject. You should be engaged with this aspect of your cancer care from the outset.

What “receptor patterns” suggest chemotherapy?

Your receptor pattern is a key piece of information that comes early in your breast cancer journey. In about 30% of patients with an invasive breast cancer, the receptor pattern alone can strongly suggest that chemotherapy will be needed regardless of what is found at surgery. If your receptor results suggest you will benefit from chemotherapy, you should inquire about the possible benefits of “ neoadjuvant chemotherapy ,” meaning chemotherapy given before surgery, not afterwards. The key points regarding receptors are outlined below.

How can a genomic “Oncotype DX” test be helpful?

Patients who have a small, estrogen receptor positive, HER2 receptor negative tumor and no evidence of cancer in their lymph nodes may benefit from an Oncotype DX genomic assay. This cutting-edge test looks deeper into breast cancer cells to better identify people who may benefit from chemotherapy with ER+, HER2 – breast cancers. The results of this test can also confirm that only hormonal therapy will be needed. Our video lesson ( here) on “ Genomic Assays ” provides much more detail about these advances in breast cancer care.

What is neoadjuvant chemotherapy?

What are the advantages of “neoadjuvant chemotherapy”? Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is when chemotherapy is given before surgery, not afterwards. There are specific advantages to neoadjuvant chemotherapy in appropriately selected patients. If your breast biopsy “receptor pattern” suggests that you will need chemotherapy, …

How to treat inflammatory breast cancer?

Starting chemotherapy as soon as possible is essential to treating this aggressive breast cancer. A mastectomy is performed after chemotherapy, followed by radiation to the area of the mast ectomy to lessen the chance of cancer growing back in that area .

What is the treatment for breast cancer?

Chemotherapy is the use of certain medications to treat cancer systemically, meaning throughout the whole body. If needed, chemotherapy is usually given after surgery for invasive breast cancer. It is a more intense cancer treatment than hormonal therapy (usually pills). Only a minority of breast cancer patients will ever need it. These complex decisions are ones you will make with your medical oncologist. Our goal is to quickly educate you about the basic indications for chemotherapy. Our list is far from complete. You will make better treatment choices when you are informed about chemotherapy and hormonal therapy before meeting with your medical oncologist.

Most Women In The Mid

The new study looked at the 6,711 women from the trial who fell in the mid-range of 11 to 25. The goal of the study was to find out if these women could safely skip the chemotherapy.

Personal Stories About Choosing Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer

These stories are based on information gathered from health professionals and consumers. They may be helpful as you make important health decisions.

Reasons To Wait A Short While

While information suggests having surgery within a few weeks and chemotherapy within a month is ideal, there are some very good reasons why you may wish to wait a few days or a few weeks to begin treatment.

What Is The Cost Of The Test

Oncotype DX costs about $4,000 but, according to Genomic Health, 90% of insured Americans carry an insurance policy that will cover the testing.

Who Is A Good Candidate For Neoadjuvant Therapy

Patients should meet a few requirements to be a candidate for neoadjuvant therapy. The size of the tumor, the type of breast cancer they have, and whether lymph nodes are involved are all things a doctor will consider before suggesting this form of treatment. Some forms of breast cancer are more likely to respond well to neoadjuvant therapy.

Mouth Sores Are A Problem For Many People Are There Foods That Are Easier On A Sore Mouth

The following tips can help you cope with chemotherapy-associated mouth sores:

Starting With Neoadjuvant Therapy

Most often, these cancers are treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy . For HER2-positive tumors, the targeted drug trastuzumab is given as well, sometimes along with pertuzumab . This may shrink the tumor enough for a woman to have breast-conserving surgery . If the tumor doesnt shrink enough, a mastectomy is done.

What is neoadjuvant therapy?

Neoadjuvant therapy is a treatment approach which focuses on this type of reverse order. The idea is to first shrink the tumor with chemotherapy before any next steps, specifically surgery.

What are the factors that determine the success of neoadjuvant chemotherapy?

These include the size of the tumor, evidence of lymph node involvement as well as the type of breast cancer.

Is neoadjuvant therapy limited to chemotherapy?

Neoadjuvant therapy is not limited to chemotherapy. For example, the anti-HER2 medications trastuzumab and pertuzumab (injection-based antibody treatments) are known to improve the outcomes in HER2-positive breast cancer, when added to chemotherapy.

Can a woman with breast cancer have chemo?

For women with estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer (the most common type) neoadjuvant chemotherapy may not always be the best option. In select patients, anti-estrogen therapy may instead help shrink a tumor before surgery , Dr. Moore says.

Can a triple negative breast cancer patient be chemoed?

Unless the tumor is very small and shows no lymph node involvement most patients with either triple-negative breast cancer or HER2-positive breast cancer will be candidates for chemotherapy — either pre-operatively or post-operatively.

Can neoadjuvant chemotherapy be administered in the post-operative setting?

For patients who do not have a complete response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy, additional treatments can also be administered in the post-operative or “adjuvant” setting to improve long-term outcomes. In this way, treatments can be individualized. Often this means applying more intensive treatments to those at higher risk.

Can breast cancer be treated with chemotherapy?

Improving surgical options. Keep in mind, not all breast cancers require chemotherapy. And only certain tumors qualify for neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Advertising Policy. In the past, neoadjuvant therapy was primarily given for locally advanced or inoperable cancers in order to improve the chances of a successful surgery.

When Is Chemo Not Recommended?

Chemotherapy is not recommended when the potential risks outweigh the benefits. Because of chemotherapy’s considerable side effects, it may not be safe for individuals who have underlying conditions. If your oncologist worries that your body is not strong enough to withstand chemotherapy, they will likely recommend other treatment options.

Why is chemotherapy bad for you?

Cancer cells tend to multiply quickly and replicate much faster than healthy cells. For this reason, chemotherapy targets fast-growing cells. The main drawback to chemotherapy is that it cannot differentiate cancer cells from healthy cells. Therefore, normal cells are also destroyed in the process. This is why chemotherapy has so many possible side effects. 1

What is the best treatment for cancer?

Chemotherapy is a group of medications that can kill cancer cells and is recommended for several types of cancer. It is very effective, and may be used on its own or combined with other treatments. For example, your oncologist may recommend a round of chemotherapy to shrink your tumor before surgery.

What is the procedure to remove a tumor?

Surgery: The surgeon removes the primary tumor and/or lymph nodes. Surgery is sometimes followed by chemotherapy or radiation therapy to kill any remaining cancer cells.

Why do you have to take breaks during chemo?

Because chemotherapy can cause significant side effects, the treatment is usually given in rounds with breaks in between. These breaks allow time for your body to recover. The chemotherapy treatment and rest period are known as a treatment cycle.

What is targeted therapy?

Targeted therapies: Targeted therapies target specific proteins on cancer cells. The advantage of this treatment is that it does not attack healthy cells like chemotherapy does.

What are the treatment options for cancer?

Treatment options for cancer include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, targeted therapies, hormone therapy, and immunotherapy.

What is chemo for short?

Furlong / Getty Images. The term chemotherapy encompasses a whole range of medications used specifically to eradicate cancer cells within your body. Most commonly, it’s referred to as chemo for short. Chemo drugs target and destroy cells in your body that rapidly divide—or mutate—in the case of cancer cells.

Why do people refuse chemo?

The argument that chemotherapy drugs can cause secondary tumors or potentially increase your risk of the recurrence of cancer is another frequently toted reason some people refuse chemo. Again, there is a small kernel of truth in part of this fear—for normal, healthy people chemotherapy drugs can be harmful.

Does chemo kill the immune system?

A growing population of adults are choosing to refuse chemo is based on the way in which it works. Chemotherapy does not kill your immune system as claimed, but it can harm it temporarily. 3  The potential for this side effect is well known and the oncologist will prepare for it and monitor your immune system closely throughout treatment. This is a large part of the reason why, if you do choose to elect chemotherapy, your blood will be closely monitored through tests during your treatment. This concern is not unfounded but it is debatable, as the effects on your immune system end shortly after the round of chemo does.

Can everyone have chemo side effects?

Notice we said can be experienced—not everyone suffers the extreme side effects that are so commonly associated with chemo. Likewise, the side effects and degree to which you experience them vary largely from person to person and are dependent on the type of chemotherapy drugs you receive.

Does Verywell Health use peer reviewed sources?

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Can you refuse chemotherapy for colorectal cancer?

Every person diagnosed with colorectal cancer has the right to refuse chemotherapy, but hopefully, it’s done for the right reasons and the decision is based on sound research, thought and discussion.

Does chemotherapy kill cancer cells?

The side effects can be numerous, based on the fact that many cells rapidly divide in your body including those of the gastrointestinal tract, hair, skin, and nails. The very drugs meant to kill the cancerous cells also destroy these healthy cells, which results in chemotherapy’s most common side effects including: 1 .



Chemotherapy for breast cancer uses drugs to target and destroy breast cancer cells. These drugs are usually injected directly into a vein through a needle or taken by mouth as pills. Chemotherapy for breast cancer frequently is used in addition to other treatments, such as surgery, radiation or hormone therapy. Chemotherapy c…

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  • Chemotherapy medications travel throughout the body. Side effects depend on the drugs you receive and your reaction to them. Side effects may get worse during the course of treatment. Most side effects are temporary and subside once treatment is finished. Sometimes chemotherapy can have long-term or permanent effects.

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How You Prepare

  • Assess the potential benefit of chemotherapy
    When deciding whether chemotherapy is right for you, your doctor considers: 1. Cancer size and grade.Larger cancers and higher grade cancers are more likely to recur and are more likely to benefit from chemotherapy. 2. Lymph node status.If your breast cancer has spread to your lymp…
  • Take steps to improve your overall health
    Make healthy choices before cancer treatment so you’ll feel strong as your treatment begins. Continuing healthy choices during treatment may help minimize side effects. Your doctor may recommend that you: 1. Get plenty of rest. 2. Stay active and make the time to exercise. 3. Eat a …

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What You Can Expect

  • Timing and frequency of chemotherapy sessions
    Chemotherapy for breast cancer is given in cycles. The cycle for chemotherapy can vary from once a week to once every three weeks. Each treatment session is followed by a period of recovery. Typically, if you have early-stage breast cancer, you’ll undergo chemotherapy treatmen…
  • Common drug combinations
    There are many chemotherapy drugs available. Because each person is different, your doctor will tailor the type and dose of medications (regimen) — often a combination of two or three chemotherapy drugs — to your type of breast cancer and medical history.

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  • After you complete chemotherapy treatment, your doctor will schedule follow-up visits to monitor for long-term side effects and check for cancer recurrence. Expect appointments every few months and then less frequently the longer you remain cancer-free.

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Clinical Trials

  • Explore Mayo Clinic studiesof tests and procedures to help prevent, detect, treat or manage conditions.

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