Chemotherapy can be used to treat all stages of breast cancer. The decision to treat with chemotherapy is usually affected by the patient's age, overall condition and personal preference. The type and stage of the breast cancer also affects this decision. For example, patients who have hormone negative receptor tumors would be more likely to benefit from chemotherapy.
For breast cancer treatment chemotherapy is usually given before radiation, however, it can be administered before surgery (neoadjuvant) or after surgery (adjuvant). Mercy’s breast surgeons collaborate closely with the doctors of Medical Oncology and Hematology at Mercy to decide whether a patient is a candidate for adjuvant or neoadjuvant chemotherapy. This decision is often influenced by the size of the tumor, the size of the breast and the desire for breast conservation treatment.
Chemotherapy can also be used to treat widespread or metastatic breast cancer. The treatment is usually not curative, but can prolong survival for some patients.
Chemotherapy can be used in combination with targeted therapy or before hormonal therapy. There are tests available, such as Oncotype Dx that can sometimes be used to define the patient's risk of relapse. These tests can be discussed with your medical oncologist and can help determine the type and sequence of treatments for each patient.
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