Chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer involves giving drugs intravenously or orally to kill the breast cancer cells. The drugs do not confine to only the breast for eliminating cancer cells. They spread to all parts of the body to kill off the cells that have metastasised, i.e. spread to body parts other than the breast. Breast cancer chemotherapy procedure involves certain steps.
There are some cycles of chemotherapy treatment that are followed for breast cancer. This usually follows a period of recovery. The entire chemotherapy treatment procedure can last from many months up to a year, which would depend on the kind of drugs given.
If the spread of breast cancer is confined to breast or lymph nodes, chemotherapy can be give after one of two other procedures, lumpectomy or mastectomy. This is done to as an adjuvant treatment, i.e. one which helps to lessen the risk of breast cancer’s recurrence.
Chemotherapy is given as the main therapy when breast cancer spreads to other body parts, i.e. beyond the area of breast and lymph nodes. The metastasised breast cancer is likely to be found in a small number of women at the time of diagnosis, but it can also occur later after initial treatment is over. Chemotherapy is also given for shrinking a tumour. This is called neo-adjuvant chemotherapy.
When doctors give chemo drugs for treatment of breast cancer, they need to ensure that the body gets enough rest to recover from the impact of the drugs. Usually chemotherapy is given on the first day of each cycle, but the schedule for this is variable. In some cases, the chemo drug may need to be given every 14 days or even weekly for a couple of weeks. In most cases though, the chemo drug is given only on the first day of the treatment cycle.
At the end of every cycle, the same chemo schedule is restarted for the coming cycle. The treatment cycles for chemotherapy are mostly two or three weeks long, but it needs to vary according to the various combinations of drugs and specific drugs. There are some drugs that need to be given more often.
Adjuvant chemo, the treatment that is given as a precautionary measure to kill the cancer cells that are not been detected but may have been left behind. This procedure is given for a period of 3-6 months, but it is based on the way drugs are used. Treatment may get prolonged in case of advanced breast cancer.
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