Recommended Treatment for Advanced Breast Cancer

Advanced breast cancer refers to the stage of breast cancer at which cancer cells have spread from the breast to other organs such as the skin, lymph nodes, liver, brain, lungs, and bones.

Advanced breast cancer, being a chronic disease requires treatment and care for the rest of one’s life, with the aim of treatment being to control the spread and growth of the cancer cells to ensure one still leads a quality life.

Treatment options recommended for advanced breast cancer includes the following;

  • Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy is the use of medicines to kill cancer cells. They may be administered orally or via an intravenous catheter. These medicines work by killing actively and rapidly-dividing cells such as cancer cells. Common side effects of chemotherapy are hair loss, nail changes, vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea.
  • Hormone Therapy – Hormone therapy involves use of drugs that block estrogen and progesterone in the body. These hormones are the natural female sex hormones and they have been found to promote the growth of breast cancer.

Hormone therapy may be administered as pills or injections, and may cause side effects such as menstrual irregularities, hot flashes, and reduced sexual desire.

  • Targeted therapy – This approach of cancer treatment targets proteins or genes that promote the growth of cancer cells. Examples of targeted therapy are immunotherapy which boosts the body’s defenses to kill cancer cells, and endothelial growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors which prevent growth of the cancer cells by blocking a growth protein called EGFR.

Chemotherapy and hormone therapy may involve the use of artificial veins, called implanted ports, which create access to blood vessels for administration of drugs and drawing blood for tests.

While you may receive a combination of these treatment options, it will depend on your cancer type and the severity of your symptoms. Your doctor and nurse will discuss each method and its side effects with you before commencing treatment.

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