Breast Cancer: How Is It Decided Which Chemo Drugs Are Right For You?
A number of factors are important when the chemotherapy regimen that’s best for you right now is chosen. Among the variables taken into account are:
- Your age, menopausal status and general health: It’s important for your healthcare provider to know all of your health concerns, including chronic diseases such as heart disease or diabetes. Older women or those who have certain illnesses may not be able to tolerate certain chemo protocols. And some drug regimens may be more appropriate for younger women who may be pregnant or who want to have children.
- The type and stage of your breast cancer: They will consider whether your cancer has just been diagnosed or whether it has recurred (come back), how fast it is growing and how much it has spread. They will also consider the features of the cancer, such as the size of your tumor and whether the lymph nodes are involved. Does it have estrogen or progesterone receptors? Is it HER2 positive or negative? How aggressive is it? When planning your chemo regimen, your healthcare provider will choose drugs with the highest response rates (in other words, that have been shown to be effective at shrinking tumors in others) and longest known durations (that have remained effective).
- The goals of your treatment: Are they trying to cure your cancer? Control its growth? Simply ease your side effects? Together, you will decide on the goals that make sense for you and also take into account the risks and benefits of the drugs that can help you.
- Your treatment, and its results, to date: They will look at treatment you have already received as well as how your body responded to this treatment. Certain chemo drugs may be more suitable if cancer has recurred (come back) or if tumors have been found in other parts of your body.