As breast cancer survivors would attest, the journey to purging the body of the cancer cells is not easy. The good thing about the struggles that one has to overcome during treatment however is the fact that one feels like a real winner when health is finally regained. The easiest way to handle treatment is to gain knowledge about the breast cancer drugs and their side effects. Once this is done, the patient is in a better position to prepare him or herself psychologically for the treatment regimens and the effects that may come with them.
Some of the most common breast cancer drugs are used in chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and biological therapy. Drugs in the chemotherapy regimen are intended to stop further multiplication of the cancer cells. They include drugs such as Flurouracil, Epurubicin, Clyclophosphamide, Adrriamycin Methotrexate, and Mitozantrone among others. Some of these cancer treatments are used in combination in order to give the patient maximum benefits. The most common side effects experienced when the chemotherapy drugs are used include hair loss, nausea, premature menopause, fatigue, hot flashes, and temporary low blood count. Once complete healing is attained however, most of these side effects disappear. Some like menopause are however permanent.
Hormone therapy includes the use of cancer drugs such as Tamoxifen, Arimidex, Femara, and Aromasin. Tamoxifen is specifically used in pre-menopausal women, while Arimidex, Femara, and Aromasin are administered on postmenopausal women. Drugs administered under the hormone therapy regimen inhibit cancer cells from growing by preventing the release of the estrogen hormone by the body. The hormone therapy drugs are often used after breast cancer surgery to prevent further growth of cancer cells in the breasts. Taxol is also another cancer drug that falls in the hormonal inhibiting category. The drug is specifically administered to patients who had received Adriamycin during chemotherapy. Some of the noted side effects for the drugs as used in the hormone therapy regimen are manifested through vaginal dryness and hot flashes. When Taxol is used, patients may experience tingling or numbness of their feet and hands, and muscular pains. Painful joints are also a common complaint among patients receiving Taxol treatment. Other drugs such as Herceptin fall in the biological therapy regimen. Drugs in this category work by boosting the patient’s immune system. The immune system in turn acts by destroying existing cancer cells.
The specific type of breast cancer drugs to be used on an individual patient is determined by the oncologist based on the patient’s condition. Depending on the patients age, health condition, resistance to specific cancer treatments and the stage of cancer, the oncologist may recommend different or a combination of breast cancer treatments. Notably however, the list of cancer drugs will continue growing in coming days, especially because researchers continue investigating newer and more effective treatment methods. Patients may also benefit from newer drug discoveries through taking part in clinical trials.