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Breast Cancer Chemotherapy Drugs

written by: DaniellaNicole • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 8/13/2010

What breast cancer chemotherapy drugs are being used and how effective are they?

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    According to American Cancer Society Stats, in 2007 approximately 40, 480 deaths were attributed to breast cancer. (Avery). Though it primarily affects women, men can also get breast cancer.

    Breast cancer chemotherapy drugs are given in cycles of drug administration and body recovery, usually over the course of 3 to 6 months. (AMS) There are also many individual drugs and combinations of drugs that may be used.

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    Common Drugs Used

    immunohistochemical assay of HER2 in Breast cancer (Infiltrating ductal carcinoma of the breast) Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan)

    Sometimes given alone, rather than in combination with other drugs. When combined, often it is any number of combinations such as with methotrexate (Amethopterin) and 5-flourouracil (5-FU, Adrucil); with doxorubicin (Adriamycin) and 5-flourouracil (5-FU, Adrucil); or with docetaxel (Taxotere), among other combinations.

    Docetaxel (Taxotere)

    Sometimes given alone, rather than in combination with other drugs. Sometimes given with Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan) and Doxorubicin (Adriamycin). See: Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan).

    Doxorubicin (Adriamycin)

    Sometimes given alone, rather than in combination with other drugs. Sometimes given with Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan).

    Epirubicin (Ellence)

    Sometimes given alone, rather than in combination with other drugs. Sometimes given with Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan).

    Fluorouracil (5-FU, Adrucil)

    Sometimes given alone, rather than in combination with other drugs. See: Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan)

    Gemcitabine (Gemzar)

    Used in combination with Paclitaxel (Taxol).

    Herceptin

    Reported to be providing big breakthroughs in breast cancer treatment (Avery)

    Methotrexate (Amethopterin)

    Sometimes given alone, rather than in combination with other drugs. See: Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan)

    Paclitaxel (Taxol)

    Made from Yew trees, this clear, thick fluid is used to treat breast cancer at any stage. However, an Associated Press report on MSNBC in 2007 showed that fewer patients than originally thought were benefiting from this drug. The quoted study showed positive results for those with overactive HER-2 genes, while those with HER-2 negative tumors did not significantly benefit. Used in combination with Gemcitabine (Gemzar)

     

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    Side Effects

    As with any drug, breast cancer chemotherapy drugs come with side effects. According to the American Cancer Society, some of the most common side effects experienced are hair loss, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, easy bruising, mouth sores, increased risk for infections, and loss of appetite.

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    Sources:

    Recent breast cancer treatments helping women live longer. Sarah Avery. McClatchy Newspapers. January 28, 2009.http://www.ajc.com/services/content/health/stories/2009/01/28/breast_cancer_developments.html

    Chemotherapy drugs used in breast cancer.MedicineWorld.Org.http://medicineworld.org/cancer/breast/treatment/chemodrugs-breast.html

    Detailed Guide – Breast Cancer – Chemotherapy.American Cancer Society (ACS).http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_4_4X_Chemotherapy_5.asp

    Breast Cancer Treatment – Taxol (Paclitaxel) – Chemotherapy Drug Profile. Pam Stephan. Last Update October 2, 2008.About.com – Breast Cancer.http://breastcancer.about.com/od/treatments/a/taxol_descrip.htm

    Chemo drug fails most breast cancer patients. Associated Press. Last Update October 10, 2007. MSNBC.http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21225760/

    About breast cancer chemotherapy.Cancer Research UK.http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk/help/default.asp?page=3336

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    Image Credit

    immunohistochemical assay of HER2 in Breast cancer (Infiltrating ductal carcinoma of the breast). Wikimedia Commons. Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5, Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 and Attribution ShareAlike 1.0 License