When it comes to treating breast cancer there are a few options someone can opt for. Depending on the stage of cancer, your doctor would advise you as to which treatment option is best. For some chemotherapy is the best option. Chemotherapy is a treatment method that uses drugs that fight against cancer. The drugs can be taken either by mouth or intravenously. Once ingested, the drugs would go through the blood to reach the cancer cells. It’s not so common but it can also be passed directly into the spinal fluid. This fluid surrounds the brain and the spinal cord. So if you’re opting for chemo, what is the strongest chemotherapy drug for breast cancer to opt for?
This is a very good question. Well, when it comes to chemotherapy, doctors usually use a combination of different drugs. Combining different drugs have been found to be more effective when it comes to dealing with breast cancer. Using a single drug to deal with breast cancer hasn’t proven to bring the best of results when it comes to treating breast cancer. That’s why today we’ll not be looking at one particular drug that would do the trick. But instead, we will be looking at some of the most common drugs that are usually combined to give amazing results.
Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer
Drugs used for chemotherapy belong to a class of drugs known as cytotoxic agents. These drugs have the goal of destroying cancer cells. The thing with cancer cells is that they grow very fast. These drugs disrupt the growth and multiplication of the cancer cells that grow really fast. And cells that grow slowly are not harmed.
Some chemotherapy drugs are also known to affect the genetic material of the cells. And the also interfere with the division of cells. The thing though with some chemo drugs is that they also affect some normal, fast-growing cells. Such as blood cells and hair cells. This, in the end, leads to an adverse effect on the body.
Not everyone that is diagnosed with breast cancer would opt for chemotherapy. Most times breast cancer can be treated with radiation and surgery. And in this, no systemic treatment is often needed. But for those that have quite large tumors may have to undergo chemo. Especially if it has spread to lymph nodes around the breast. In this type of case, it’s called adjuvant therapy.
For people who have been diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer and large tumors, systemic treatment is needed. That, of course, is before going for surgery. This is known as neoadjuvant therapy.
What is The Strongest Chemotherapy Drug for Breast Cancer?
As mentioned earlier there is no specific drug that is considered to be the strongest drug for chemotherapy. For the early stages of breast cancer, there are certain drugs that are combined by your doctor for use. And these drugs are:
- Anthracyclines like epirubicin (Ellence) and doxorubicin (Adriamycin)
- Taxanes like docetaxel (Taxotere) and paclitaxel (Taxol)
- Carboplatin (paraplatin)
- Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan)
Most of the time, these drugs are combined. It could be either 2 or 3 of these drugs.
When cancer has spread to other parts of the body it is treated with some other drugs. Let’s have a look at the drugs used:
- Platinum agents such as carboplatin and cisplatin
- Capecitabine (Xeloda)
- Vinorelbine (navelbine)
- Gemcitabine (Gemzar)
- Eribulin (Halaven)
- Ixabepilone (Ixempra)
For the early stages of cancer, drug combinations are commonly used. But for advanced stages, single drugs are used. But also, there are times that drug combinations are used for treating advanced breast cancer. This would be determined by your doctor.
Well, over time chemotherapy has improved. And with that, there are lesser side effects. But there are still some side effects that people experience when they opt for chemotherapy. And these are some of the side effects.
Most of the chemotherapy drugs do not cause the loss of hair. But there are some mentioned above for treating early stages of cancer that lead to hair loss. And this is actually one of the most glaring effects of cancer. At the same time, it can also be the most distressing.
This is a common problem found among people that use chemotherapy drugs. That’s why it’s important that you take enough fiber daily. You can as well opt for stool softeners.
This is another side effect that is feared by many. But it’s not as common as it used to be. You would be given anti-nausea medications and steroids. With this nausea would actually reduce. Some people don’t even feel nauseous at all.
Another common side effect is tiredness. That’s because chemotherapy has an effect on the bone marrow and also the blood. Often times, people that undergo chemo are anemic. And this would lead to fatigue. Also, the effect chemo has on your blood makes you more susceptible to infection. That’s why when you’re undergoing chemotherapy make sure you get enough rest. This would help support the body a bit.
The good thing is that a lot of these effects would go away with time. Some wouldn’t but most of the effects would fade away after some time.
When undergoing chemo it’s important that you know how to deal with chemo. It’s quite frightening at first when you find out you have to undergo chemotherapy. But you don’t have to be scared. Chemotherapy can be managed. Some people still carry on with their career and daily activities even with chemo.
So how can you manage to be on chemo? Well, make sure to eat well and get enough rest. You might have to reduce the amount of work you do daily. Also, try to stay positive. The effects that would come when you start can be quite disturbing but it’s just for a while. Also, try as much as you can to talk to people that have gone through that phase. This would be a source of encouragement to you.
In choosing the drugs for chemo you have nothing to worry about. Your doctor is in the right position to choose the best drug or drug combinations for you. So you can quit worrying about what is the strongest chemotherapy drug for breast cancer.