DRUG TREATMENT OF BREAST CANCER
There are various drugs used for treating breast cancer: They fall into two groups:
This involves the administration of various drugs in combination. They are usually given in cycles lasting 21 days. Most current courses involve 4-6 cycles i.e. the whole treatment lasts 3 - 4.5 months.
There are many side effects associated with chemotherapy and in general everyone is afraid of these unwanted effects. However, modern chemotherapy does not result in the same problems which older drugs were associated with Furthermore, there are now many effective methods by which many of these side effects are very well controlled.
Breast cancer is often "hormone dependant" i.e. The tumour in the breast may be dependent on certain hormones in the body mainly oestrogen.
After a breast lump is removed, the pathologist checks it to find out if treatment with hormones will be useful.
If the tumour can be treated with hormones, then Tamoxifen, a well-known drug (an anti-oestrogen acting drug) is often prescribed for a period of 5 years. It is surprisingly free of major side effects. The important ones are change in the lining of the uterus and changes in the eye.