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Texas Clinical Oncology: Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer

Chemotherapy refers to use of medications to kill cancer cells. The drugs can be taken orally or injected into the vein (intravenously). The drugs will then travel through the bloodstream towards the cancer cells throughout most of the body. When treating breast cancer, oncologists in Texas don’t always use chemotherapy, but they may use it under certain situations.

Not all breast cancer patients will need chemotherapy, but some situations may warrant it:

  • Before surgery – Chemo can be used to shrink a tumor to simplify its removal during surgery. It is for this reason that oncologists use chemotherapy to treat tumors that are too big to be extracted surgically. Also, by administering chemotherapy before removing the tumor, doctors are in a position to tell how a particular cancer responds to it. Should the first round of chemo medication not shrink the tumor, the doctor may need to use other drugs. Chemo kills cancer cells that have spread in your body. It also lowers the risk of breast cancer returning.
  • After surgery – Doctors may use chemotherapy to destroy any cancer cells that were left behind following surgery or those that have spread but can’t be traced even through imaging tests. Not killing such cells may result in the formation of new tumors in other areas of the body.
  • For cases of advanced breast cancer – When breast cancer spreads outside a woman’s breast and the underarm area, chemotherapy can be used to treat it. The treatment can be administered after diagnosis or after using other treatments. The duration of the treatment may depend on your tolerance or how well it’s working.

Texas clinical oncology tests can help determine which women chemotherapy can work for after they have undergone breast surgery.


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