How Breast Cancer Chemotherapy Works to Target Cancer Cells
Breast cancer is one of the most prevalent types of cancers that affect women worldwide. Even though the survival rate of individuals diagnosed with breast cancer has improved significantly over the years, chemotherapy remains one of the most effective treatments for this condition. Breast cancer chemotherapy is the use of powerful drugs to eliminate cancer cells that have spread beyond the breast.
Chemotherapy drugs work by attacking new and rapidly dividing cells, which includes cancerous cells. These drugs can be administered orally, through an intravenous line, or by injection into the muscle or fat tissue. Unlike radiation therapy that targets cancer cells only in the treatment area, chemotherapy drugs can travel through the bloodstream and reach cancer cells in other parts of the body, including the brain, liver, and lungs.
One of the significant advantages of chemotherapy is that it can destroy cancer cells in the body before they have the chance to form new tumors. This feature often makes chemotherapy the primary treatment option for patients with advanced breast cancer. When the chemotherapy drugs enter the body, they target the cancerous cells that have spread away from the primary tumor.
Cancer cells have genetic abnormalities and tend to divide more rapidly than normal cells. Chemotherapy drugs aim to block or slow down the growth of these abnormal cells by destroying their DNA. Once the DNA is damaged, cancer cells find it hard to repair themselves and eventually die off.
One challenge of chemotherapy is that cancer cells are not always the only target of these drugs. Chemotherapy can also affect healthy cells that divide rapidly, such as the cells in the bone marrow, hair follicles, mouth, and digestive tract. As a result, individuals undergoing chemotherapy treatments may experience side effects such as fatigue, hair loss, nausea, and mouth sores.
However, over the years, researchers have developed ways to minimize these side effects through anti-nausea medication, topical treatments, and dietary changes. Also, the doses of chemotherapy administered to patients will vary depending on their overall health status and the stage of their disease.
In conclusion, chemotherapy plays a significant role in treating breast cancer by focusing on rapidly growing cells, including cancer cells. Even though this treatment comes with possible side effects, it remains an essential treatment option for patients with advanced breast cancer. Therefore, patients should discuss the potential benefits and risks of the treatment with their healthcare providers to make an informed decision.