Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer

How Chemotherapy Is Administered

Chemotherapy drugs are generally administered in three ways:

  • By mouth in the form of a pill you swallow
  • By injection
  • Locally (directly to the tumor site)

Injection methods include:

  • Intra-arterial (IA): into an artery
  • Intramuscular (IM): into a muscle
  • Intravenous (IV): into a vein
  • Subcutaneous (SubQ): into the skin

Local/direct methods include:

  • Intracavitary: in the cavity (or space) where your tumor had been prior to surgery
  • Interstitial: into your tissue
  • Intraperitoneal: into your abdomen or peritoneal cavity (intestines, liver, stomach, ovaries)
  • Intrathecal: into the space between the meninges
  • Intratumoral: into the tumor
  • Intraventicular: into a ventricle
  • Convection-enhanced delivery: into your tumor using gravity or controlled flow

Chemotherapy is a form of cancer treatment where high-powered medications are used to kill cancer cells. It’s a systemic approach to cancer treatment, where drugs are delivered through your bloodstream, targeting cancer cells throughout your body.

Scott & White's Approach

Scott & White’s mission to provide personalized, comprehensive care is the foundation for our chemotherapy program. Our approach at Scott & White is in individualizing therapy.

Our medical oncologists take meticulous care to determine which chemotherapy drug or drugs are best for you. Several factors impact their decision, including the type, location and stage of your specific tumor and your overall medical condition.

New Advances

At Scott & White, our team of experts offers expert treatment and care with the latest technology and therapies to choose from. One of our newest, unique treatments is neo-adjuvant chemotherapy.

Neoadjuvant, or preoperative, chemotherapy is the use of chemotherapy to treat a cancerous tumor before surgery. Your doctor will talk about what to expect and why this may be beneficial to your recovery.

The major benefits of neoadjuvant chemotherapy treatment include:

  • Reducing the size of the cancerous tumor prior to surgery, which may enable the surgeon to take out only the tumor (lumpectomy or partial mastectomy) rather than removing the whole breast (mastectomy).
  • Identifying which combination of chemotherapy drugs effectively shrinks the cancerous tumor. Knowing this information prior to tumor removal will help your doctors successfully treat any remaining cancerous cells after surgery. 

We are proud to provide patients with this preoperative chemotherapy. It’s encouraging to see the tumor shrink, allowing us to perform more precise surgery, and achieve better results," says Dr. Sherronda Henderson, medical oncologist at Scott & White.

How Chemotherapy Is Used to Treat Cancer

Your physician team may recommend chemotherapy in addition to or instead of other treatments for your breast cancer.

Chemotherapy is a form of cancer treatment where drugs are injected, given orally or through an IV, to keep your cancer from spreading. Often chemotherapy drugs are used in combination to attack cancer cells. It’s usually given in cycles over several months.

Chemotherapy is used in some cases:

  • To kill any remaining cancer cells after surgery or radiation therapy; this kind of chemotherapy is called adjuvant chemotherapy
  • To shrink the size of your tumor before surgery or radiation therapy; this kind of chemotherapy is called neoadjuvant therapy
  • To treat metastatic cancer (cancer that has spread)
  • To treat recurrent cancer (cancer that has returned)
  • As a palliative — to relieve the symptoms caused by cancer, such as bone pain

There are a wide variety of chemotherapy drugs available to treat cancer. At Scott & White, we use all the standard chemotherapies.

Side Effects of Chemotherapy

Each chemotherapy drug is different and each person’s reaction to it can vary. At Scott & White, your medical oncologist will see you through treatment and help you manage any side effects.

Here are some common side effects of chemotherapy drugs for your breast cancer:

  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Mouth sores
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bruising or bleeding
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Lowered resistance to infection

For more information about possible side effects, talk to your medical oncologist.

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