Breast cancer chemotherapy can be used in several different ways. It can be given as a primary form of treatment, paired with another treatment (such as radiation therapy or immunotherapy) or used to shrink a tumor before surgery. While chemotherapy is often provided intravenously (as a liquid injected into a vein), it can also be administered in the form of an oral medication or topical cream.
There are nearly a dozen different chemotherapeutic agents that can be used for breast cancer chemotherapy. The most common are doxorubicin, paclitaxel and docetaxel. Some patients receive just one chemotherapy drug, while others receive a custom combination of two or more medications. If one drug is less effective than intended, a patient’s medical oncologist can sometimes recommend an alternative.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, our medical oncologists design each patient’s breast cancer chemotherapy plan based on several individualized factors, such as:
- The tumor’s stage and cell type
- The patient’s age and overall health
- The patient’s unique genetic factors (for instance, a specific chromosomal abnormality can make a patient more receptive to a class of chemotherapy drugs known as anthracyclines, while women with the HER2 gene often respond favorably to the drug Herceptin)
- The other types of treatment a patient is receiving, has already received or will receive in the future
This unique approach allows Moffitt’s medical oncologists to select the drug – or combination of drugs – that offers the most promise for each patient’s unique needs. And, because our tumor board reviews each patient’s progress on a weekly basis, we can recommend any changes that might be necessary to a patient’s chemotherapy plan. Supportive care services are also available to help patients manage any side effects that might develop as a result of their treatment.
Referrals are not required to meet with our experienced medical oncologists. For more information about receiving breast cancer chemotherapy at Moffitt, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online.