Breast Cancer: Understanding Your Treatment Options
Estrogen can fuel the growth of some cancers. The goal of hormone therapy is to either shut down your body’s production of this hormone or to stop your tissues from using it. Drugs like tamoxifen (also known as a SERM, or selective estrogen receptor modulator) temporarily block hormone receptors, preventing estrogen from binding to them. They are standard therapy for premenopausal women who have positive estrogen receptors. Aromatase inhibitors (AIs) are used to stop estrogen production in postmenopausal women. We can also halt estrogen production by removing your ovaries or using medication (which is temporary).
It might be right for you if: You have hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer.
What you should know: Hormone therapy can lead to early menopause in premenopausal women.
Biologic targeted therapy
Biologic therapies (also called targeted therapies) zero in on a molecular trait specific to a particular kind of cancer cell. They can, for example, block the proteins that cancer cells need in order to grow, while sparing healthy cells.
It might be right for you if: Your breast cancer has a special receptor on its surface, such as HER2, that responds to a protein that stimulates cancer growth.
What you should know: Biologic therapies are often used along with chemo medications. Your doctor may check tests of heart function while you are treated with certain biological therapies.
Immunotherapy works with the body’s immune system to fight cancer. Treatments can be in pill, injection or infusion form.
It might be right for you if: Your breast tumors produce too much HER2.
What you should know: Immunotherapy may cause side effects, such as fever, chills, pain, weakness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches and rashes.