The patient should work closely with her doctor to decide on the most appropriate course of treatment for her illness.
Luckily, breast cancer is one of the most widely studied and aggressively researched forms of the disease, with new medications being developed and offered to patients regularly. Many of these medications are offered as part of a clinical trial in an effort to prevent, detect, and/or treat breast cancer in its various stages.
Breast Cancer-Specific Drugs
While many treatment options are appropriate for any type of cancer, there are a number of medications on the market specifically for breast cancer that attack targeted portions of the cancer cells. The dosage is determined by the type and stage of the patient’s illness.
Some of the most common medications available are:
Xeloda (oral chemotherapy): Xelodais most appropriate for metastatic breast cancer and colorectal cancer. The oral medications allow patients to have more flexibility with their medication schedules—rather than visit a medical facility several times a week to receive intravenous chemotherapy, the patient can take the medication as prescribed and have very little interruption in her regular routine.
Trastuzumab (Herceptin): This drug targets the protein human growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), a protein that can be produced excessively by breast cancer cells. The drug helps to block the production of additional HER2 and causes the cancer cells to die off. Side effects of this drug may include headaches, skin rashes, and heart damage.
Lapatinib (Tykerb): This drug also targets the HER2 protein and is prescribed for women with advanced metastatic breast cancer. Many women who take this drug have tried Trastuzumab. Possible side effects are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, mouth sores, skin rashes, and pain in the hands and feet.
Bevacizumab (Avastin): This drug stops the signals cancer cells use to draw in new blood vessels. The cancerous cells will die without oxygen to sustain them. This medication is very controversial but has been prescribed by some doctors. Studies have shown that bevacizumab has slowed the growth of cancer in some cases, but has not significantly increased the survival rate of breast cancer patients. The drug also comes with a considerable number of side effects.
Targeted and experimental drugs are often very expensive and not always covered by health insurance. However you may want to look into Breast Cancer Clinical Trials.