Women's feelings about chemotherapy are anything but simple, however. While the hospital visits are no fun, the mystery of what side effects these powerful drugs may have on your body can be especially intimidating.
In deciding whether to go the chemo route, your medical oncologist will take into account not only the specifics of your diagnosis, but also other factors including your age (an older patient has fewer years for recurrence, for example) and your overall health (if you have another condition, the toxicity from the chemo could be too much).
"You're looking at the tumor and the patientboth come into play," says Julie R. Gralow, MD, director of breast medical oncology at the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. "Statistically, there would be a benefit to reduce recurrences and deaths that's greater than the side effects, but sometimes in talking to a patient you decide [chemotherapy] would be the wrong thing. You have to take her whole life into account."