Chemotherapy is one of the most used treatments when it comes to cancer, no matter what type. It will do as much damage to the cancerous cells without doing any damage to the healthy tissue in the body.
Chemotherapy for breast cancer is one of the latter options available but there are things that you need to know.
When is chemotherapy for breast cancer used
Surgery is usually the first option when it comes to breast cancer and then chemotherapy is used. This is usually to prevent the cancer from returning afterwards. There are some benefits to opting for this but there are also some side effects of chemotherapy that you will need to be aware of – your specialist will explain everything that you need to know and answer all questions that you have.
Chemotherapy is not always used after surgery. There are times when it is not required. However, if the cancer is of a high grade, has already spread or is one of the more high risk types then it will be offered.
It can also be used before surgery to help with the reduction of the cancerous growths in the breasts.
How chemotherapy for breast cancer is given
The chemo is a drug that is injected directly into your veins when you are in the hospital; however, it can also be taken in pill form so you can take it when at home. You will usually need to visit a unit to have the treatment.
The treatment will usually last for a few hours in one go and you will then have a few weeks off the treatment. This will give your body the chance to recover and deal with any of the side effects that are noticed from the drug. You will have cycles over months until the doctor is happy that the cancer is in remission.
Benefits of chemotherapy for breast cancer
While there are worries about the side effects, the good news is that chemotherapy is generally worth it. For those women who have a high chance of the cancer reoccurring, the drug will help to lessen than in a great way. However, there is very little that it will do for someone who has a small chance of a reoccurrence. Your doctor will help to explain the benefits of chemotherapy to you in more depth.
Side effects of chemotherapy for breast cancer
Most people will have heard about some of the side effects when using chemo. Hair loss and feeling sick are among the two most common ones but there are some others that are less talked about but are the most dangerous.
Anemia is one side effect that you will need to watch out for. This is when the iron levels in the body drop and not enough red blood cells are created. This affects the amount of oxygen that is passed around the body. There is also a higher risk of catching an infection, due to your body fighting so hard against the cancerous cells.
Other side effects include a loss of appetite and fatigue, which both cause a horrible cycle since both are needed to help each other. Allergic reactions to the drug are also possible and your doctor will help you with decisions when this is the case.