What are my treatment options?
Since every woman is an individual and each situation is unique to her, the treatment options available may vary. However, treatment of metastatic breast cancer generally involves systemic (whole body) treatment such as chemotherapy and/or hormonal therapy. An overview of the various treatments:
- Chemotherapy: Common chemotherapy drugs include Taxol, Taxotere, Adriamycin, Navelbine and Xeloda
- Hormonal Therapy: Common hormonal treatments include Tamoxifen, Raloxifene, Aromasin, Arimidex and Femara (of those, only Tamoxifen is recommended for pre-menopausal women).
- Herceptin: Available only for patients with HER2-overexpressing tumors. Recent data showed that Tykerb is an option for HER2 overexpressing tumors if Herceptin no longer prevents disease progression or is not an option.
- Radiation: Can be used if the metastasis is localized. For example, if cancer has spread to only one or a few closely grouped spots on the bone, radiation may be an option. For metastasis to the brain, whole or partial brain radiation may be considered.
- Surgery: A recent study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology showed that removing the tumor even when breast cancer has metastasized improves survival.
- Ovarian Suppression or Ablation: shutting down or removing ovaries is an option for estrogen receptor positive breast cancers with antiestrogens or aromatase inhibitors.