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List of Drugs for Breast Cancer Treatment

written by: Harry Sylvester • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 9/23/2010

Breast cancer occurs when abnormal cells thrive in the breast. It can spread or metastasize to other organs of the body. The doctor might prescribe drugs to help treat this cancer. Find a list of drugs for breast cancer and side effects of each medication.

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    Breast Cancer

    Breast cancer is a malignant tumor due to the abnormal growth of cells in the breast. It may expand or metastasize to other parts of the body. Women and men are both susceptible to have this cancer despite being rare in men. In woman, the cancer starts in the lobules, which is the glands that produce milk, and in the ducts that transfer milk to the nipple. Once you have been diagnosed with this cancer, the doctor might recommend undergoing surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and hormonal therapy. There are several types of breast cancer and their treatments. Treatment for each person is different, so if the doctor prescribes the drugs after finishing treatment like surgery, you might get some information on several approved FDA drugs below.

    The following is a list of drugs for breast cancer:

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    Arimidex (Chemical name: Anastrozole)

    As breast cancer needs the hormone estrogen to thrive, Arimidex serves to obstruct the estrogen effects. It is taken orally as a pill once a day to treat hormone-receptor-positive cancer in post-menopausal women during the final stages. In addition, this medication can help reduce the risk of the cancer coming back and decrease the possibility of metastasis. The doctor commonly recommends taking the medicine for five years or longer depending on the stage of cancer. You cannot take this drug and Tamoxifen at the same time.

    Side effects that might occur include loss of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, fast heartbeat, chest pain, hot flashes, headache, difficulty sleeping, blurred vision, and join pain.

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    Fareston (Chemical name: Toremifene)

    Fareston is an oral medication as a pill. This drug works to block the effect of estrogen, treating only post-menopausal women with advanced hormone-receptor-positive cancer. Fareston might prevent cancer from advancing.

    Beware of side effects such as dry skin, nausea, bone pain, hot flashes, swelling of some parts of the body, dizziness, sweating, and hypercalcemia (increased amount of calcium in the blood).

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    Faslodex (Chemical name: Fulvestrant)

    Faslodex is a liquid medication as an injection into a muscle administered once a month. This drug can treat cancer that has metastasized to other organs of the body in post-menopausal women. It can block the effect of estrogen, so cancer cells find it difficult to flourish. The doctor commonly recommends taking this drug until cancer cells stop growing.

    Side effects of this drug might include abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, headache, hot flashes, sore throat, nausea, back pain, loss of appetite, anxiety, sweating, and dry skin.

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    Herceptin (Chemical name: Trastuzumab)

    Herceptin is administered into a vein usually once a week. It can attach to the HER2 cancer cells and prevent them from thriving. HER2 is a protein found on the surface of certain cancer cells. This medicine can allow the immune system of the body to eradicate cancerous cells. The doctor recommends taking Herceptin to prevent HER2-positive cancer from recurring after treatments in addition to shrinking and treating metastatic HER2-positive cancer.

    Side effects include abdominal pain, diarrhea, anemia, low white blood cell count, and weakened heart muscle.

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    Tamoxifen (Chemical name: Tamoxifen)

    Tamoxifen is taken by mouth with or without food, usually once or twice daily for five years. This drug keeps cancer cells from growing by interfering with the hormone estrogen in the breast tissue. Tamoxifen is useful in treating breast cancer after surgery and radiation, in reducing the risk of cancer, and in treating cancer that has expanded to other organs (metastasis). It is effective in treating both pre-menopausal and post-menopausal women.

    Side effects include weight gain, depression, blood clots, hot flashes, mood swings, irregular menstrual cycles, shortness of breath, headache, and dry skin.

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    Zoladex (Chemical name: Goserelin)

    Zoladex prevents the ovaries from producing estrogen, so it will obstruct the growth of cancerous cells significantly. This drug is a liquid medication as an injection administered once a month for a few months or every few months.

    Side effects might include headache, weight pain, bone pain, loss of libido, hot flashes, and mood swings.

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    References

    Breastcancer.org: Drugs for Treatment and Risk Reduction - http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/druglist/

    HealthCentral.com: Breast Cancer Drug Information - http://www.healthcentral.com/breast-cancer/find-drug.html