Goal of Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It’s a systemic treatment. That means it affects your whole body. The drugs travel all through your body in your bloodstream, killing rapidly dividing cancer cells. Here are some ways chemotherapy works:
It may disrupt cell growth.
It may prevent cells from reproducing.
It may help your immune system identify and destroy the “invader” cancer cells.
Chemotherapy may be able to cure cancer -- meaning the tumor disappears and doesn’t return. If a cure isn’t possible, chemotherapy may help keep the cancer from growing or spreading. Or, if the cancer is advanced and can’t be controlled, chemotherapy may help ease symptoms caused by cancer and improve your quality of life.
Making the decision to have chemotherapy
Your doctor may suggest chemotherapy to treat breast cancer in any of the following situations:
After surgery (called adjuvant chemotherapy). You usually undergo it for 4 to 6 months. Adjuvant chemotherapy helps prevent the cancer from spreading and coming back. Whether your doctor recommends it depends on the tumor's size, whether it has spread to lymph nodes, and other features.