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What Are the Different Types of Breast Cancer Treatment Drugs?

Alex Tree
Updated May 17, 2024
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Chemotherapy drugs, targeted drugs, and hormone therapy drugs are commonly used to treat breast cancer. Breast cancer chemotherapy drugs are designed to kill cancer cells, but they can affect healthy cells too, which results in numerous side effects. Targeted drugs, also known as immune targeted medications, are few but beneficial for some cases of breast cancer because they aid in stopping the spread of cancer. Hormone therapy drugs target cancers affected by certain hormones, blocking hormone production or their attachment to cancer cells. Other drugs, such as pain medications, given to those with breast cancer target side effects of the cancer or its treatment, and new drugs are always being developed, some of which are available on a trial basis.

Breast cancer chemotherapy drugs kill cancer cells. This kind of medication is usually given to women before tumor removal to shrink its size. In addition, these drugs can be given to patients to reduce the likelihood of breast cancer spreading to other parts of the body. If the cancer has already spread, chemotherapy drugs can sometimes be administered anyway to slow the spread and reduce cancer symptoms. These drugs often have mild to severe side effects, like nausea, partial to complete hair loss, and a compromised immune system.

Some breast cancer treatment drugs are designed to target specific aspects of breast cancer. For example, a drug might attempt to stop cancer cells from affecting healthy cells or kill certain kinds of protein that help cancer grow. These breast cancer treatment drugs are used only under specific circumstances and sometimes only when other treatment options have failed.

Hormone therapy breast cancer treatment drugs are used only on cancers sensitive to hormones like estrogen. They work by stopping the production of certain hormones or prevent hormones from binding to cancer cells. By administering hormone therapy in addition to other breast cancer treatment drugs, medical professionals can stop the spread of the cancer. This type of medication can also be used to help prevent the return of breast cancer.

Breast cancer treatment drugs are not always designed to deal directly with cancer. For instance, pain medications are employed to deal with the effects of both breast cancer and other breast cancer drugs. Side effects, such as nausea and vomiting, are often present during breast cancer treatment, and drugs are available to combat these side effects. These drugs are sometimes applied topically or intravenously, but most of them are taken orally.

New anti-cancer and related drugs are always under development. Sometimes people with cancer are asked to participate in trials of these drugs. The trials on humans usually take place after years of lab testing on animals to ensure the drug is relatively safe. These studies help researchers understand the new drug’s effectiveness and side effects on humans.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Alex Tree
By Alex Tree
Andrew McDowell is a talented writer and WiseGEEK contributor. His unique perspective and ability to communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner make him a valuable asset to the team, as he crafts content that both informs and engages readers.

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Alex Tree

Alex Tree

Andrew McDowell is a talented writer and WiseGEEK contributor. His unique perspective and ability to communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner make him a valuable asset to the team, as he crafts content that both informs and engages readers.
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