Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer

Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer
5 Jan 2024
9 mins
Table Of Content
Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer

    "Each session of chemotherapy marks another step closer to healing and triumph."


    Breast cancer is the predominant cancer in women all over the world. Each breast cancer women need a personalized treatment based on the severity of the breast cancer. Chemotherapy offers the best treatment option for the breast cancer patient in the advanced stage. It acts as a defensive force by reducing the recurrence of breast cancer in victims. Today, we are going to learn more about the importance of chemotherapy and its effect on breast cancer patients.


    Breast Cancer Incidence and the Significance of Chemotherapy


    Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, 685,000 individuals died due to breast cancer in 2020. The mortality of breast cancer patients can be decreased by improving the screening methods and treatment options. This can be achieved by chemotherapy, which offers a better recovery of breast cancer patients by reducing the recurrence and symptoms of breast cancer.


    Understanding Chemotherapy: A Comprehensive Guide


    Chemotherapy is a type of treatment that uses an anticancer drug to target and destroy cancer cells. It can be generally given through a vein as an injection or as pills taken by mouth. Based on the stage and the severity of the breast cancer, the chemotherapy treatment may vary.


    Types Of Chemotherapy Treatment 


    Chemotherapy treatment can be categorized into two types, which are given below:


    • Adjuvant chemotherapy (after surgery): It is often given after primary treatment (surgery) to reduce the chances of getting the cancer again (recurrence). For most breast cancer stages, this type of treatment is followed.
    • Neoadjuvant chemotherapy (before surgery): It is given to breast cancer patients before surgery to reduce the tumor size and improve the survival rate. It is often used to treat large-size cancer and increase the rate of breast-conserving surgery (BCS).


    Strategies For Various Stages of Breast Cancer


    Stage 0 (carcinoma in situ): It is the non-invasive stage of breast cancer and does not spread to nearby tissues. Usually, Stage 0 type of breast cancer does not require chemotherapy, and surgery itself is enough to treat it.

    Stage 1: In this stage, the cancer has spread deep into the breast tissue and needs chemotherapy to cure the breast cancer. Adjuvant chemotherapy is effective in treating stage 1 type of breast cancer. It is administered after surgery to kill the remaining cancer cells and to reduce the recurrence of cancer—Eg., doxorubicin cyclophosphamide.

    Stage 2: Cancer has grown deeper into the nearby tissue and may also affect the nearby lymph nodes. Stage 2 cancer needs adjuvant therapy to remove the cancer cells and reduce its recurrence. Eg., trastuzumab, letrozole.

    Stage 3: Cancer has invaded into the lymph nodes and muscles but has not yet spread to distant organs. Neoadjuvant therapies are effective in treating the stage 3 type of breast cancer; it is administered before surgery to shrink or stop the cancer cells and to make the surgery more effective. Eg., tamoxifen, anastrozole, exemestane.

    Stage 4 (metastatic): This is the final stage of breast cancer, where the cancer has spread to other parts or organs of the body. Stage 4 types of breast cancer need to be treated by neoadjuvant therapies to reduce the burden of surgery by shrinking the cancer cells. Eg., lapatinib, palbociclib, neratinib.


    However, your doctor will decide the appropriate treatment and chemo medicine based on your health and the severity of your cancer. 


    6 Common Adverse Effects Of Breast Cancer Chemotherapy


    Some of the common side effects that you may experience under chemotherapy medications for breast cancer are given below:


    1. Nausea: You may experience nausea or vomiting during or after the chemo session.

    2. Dysgeusia (impaired sense of taste): Individuals may experience a loss or alteration in the sense of taste.

    3. Peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage): You may experience weakness, numbness, and pain in the hands and feet.

    4. Loss of appetite: Chemotherapy patients may experience taste alterations that contribute to a decreased appetite. This condition may lead to weight loss in breast cancer patients.

    5. Muscle pain (Myalgia): Individuals who are under chemo may experience muscle pain or discomfort.

    6. Peripheral edema: You may have swelling in the legs, ankles, feet, or hands.


    6 Strategies To Alleviate The Side Effects 


    • Eating a balanced diet: Maintain a well-balanced diet to overcome the weight loss caused by chemo. Eat frequent meals to manage appetite changes.
    • Stay hydrated: Drink enough water to tackle the water loss during the chemo session (vomiting).
    • Exercising: Physical activities like walking or yoga can help you to combat fatigue and improve overall well-being. Always speak with your healthcare provider to get an idea about the type of activity that suits your health.
    • Sleeping: Sleep for at least 7-8 hours, which helps reduce stress and increases the body's repair mechanisms.
    • Reducing stress levels: Relieve stress by engaging in hobbies and practicing mind relaxation techniques such as meditation.
    • Avoiding alcohol consumption and smoking: Avoiding or limiting your alcohol consumption and smoking helps to get a fast recovery.




    1. Can I experience hair loss during breast cancer chemotherapy? How can I stop it?

    Yes, you may experience hair loss during or after the chemo session. It depends on which medicine you're taking during the treatment. So far, there are no reliable ways to prevent hair loss, but you can avoid using harsh chemical-based shampoo to lower its impact.


    2. Will chemotherapy affect my fertility?

    The adjuvant chemotherapy used in breast cancer treatment may affect fertility and cause premature ovarian failure. There are treatment options that might be able to help to overcome this infertility. If you're pregnant at diagnosis, speak with your doctor.


    3. Does every breast cancer chemo patient need to do breast-conserving surgery (BCS)?

    No, not everyone needs breast-conserving surgery. Those individuals who are in an advanced stage of breast cancer need to do breast-conserving surgery (BCS) along with neoadjuvant chemotherapy to protect them from mastectomy (removal of breast). However, your doctor will give you an appropriate treatment for breast cancer.


    Wrap it up


    Chemotherapy plays a vital role in treating breast cancer effectively. Even Though patients may experience some undesirable side effects, it can offer them a complete cure by reducing the recurrence of breast cancer. We can mitigate the side effects of chemotherapy by following the proper steps to maintain our overall well-being and personalized treatment from the healthcare provider. Research and development are needed to reduce the side effects to ensure a more positive experience for breast cancer fighters. Let's defeat breast cancer with the tool of chemo.

     “Let your faith be bigger than your fear.”

    Written by
    Ishwarya RMedical content writer
    AboutIshwary R is a Medical Content Writer at MrMed. She completed her PG from the University of Madras, Chennai. She did her final year project in CSIR-CLRI, Adyar, entitled Studies on production of Biosurfactant by bacillus subtilis using Leather industry bioproduct. She did her offline internship and learned clinical Laboratory skills in Billroth hospital and her online internship in SS Healthcare. She strengthened her skills in research, writing, editing, and proofreading medical content, blogs, and scientific articles.
    Tags :chemotherapy for breast cancerTypes of chemotheraphybreast cancer stages of breast cancer