Journey
Drugs and Side Effects

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Tips From Dr. Julie R. Gralow on Treating Breast Cancer With Chemo, Hormone Therapy, or Herceptin

Dr. Julie R. Gralow
Dr. Julie R. Gralow
Director of breast medical oncology at the University of Washington
Q: Do all breast cancer patients have to have chemotherapy?

A: No, chemo is used less and less. Five years ago, we considered chemo for most breast cancer patients; now it's only about 20%. There are tests to help decide if someone needs chemo or not. But we also look at a tumor's grade and whether the cancer is estrogen-receptor negative—in which case, it won't respond to hormone therapy, but it may respond to chemo. Read More

How I Fought Aromatase Inhibitor Side Effects

Kerry took an antidepressant for her blues and the rest went away in time
kerry-apicella
New Yorker Kerry Apicella, 62, had breast cancer that was hormone receptor-positive, so her doctor recommended an aromatase inhibitor (AI) called Arimidex to cut the chances of a recurrence by reducing the amount of estrogen in her body. Apicella hasn't found her daily dose to be much trouble, but it was a rocky start when she began taking the pills in March 2005.   Read More

How Chemotherapy Works and Whether It's Right for You

Women's feelings about chemotherapy are anything but simple
woman-chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is medicine, given intravenously or orally, that is generally aimed at killing stray cancer cells after surgery. (It can also be used to try to reduce the size of tumors before a lumpectomy, a treatment called neoadjuvant chemotherapy.) 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.   Read More

5 Women With Breast Cancer Treatment Side Effects, Some Bad and Some Not So Bad

Some breast cancer patients are hit a lot harder than others
hair-loss-chemotherapy
Hair coming out in clumps, unrelenting fatigue, hot flashes, achy joints, tummy trouble—that's the short list of chemotherapy and radiation treatment side effects that breast cancer patients dread.   Read More

6 Complementary (Alternative) Breast Cancer Therapies for Side Effects and Stress

More than 80% of breast cancer patients have tried complementary therapies.
acupuncture-woman-cancer
More breast cancer patients than ever are turning to complementary therapies (also called integrative or alternative medicine), ranging from dietary changes and acupuncture to massage and guided imagery techniques. More than 80% of cancer patients overall have tried it, by one count, whether to supplement their prescribed cancer treatment or to ease the side effects of treatment or the symptoms of the disease itself.   Read More

Tamoxifen, Femara, and Other Breast Cancer Hormone Therapies

Side effects include hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms
tamoxifen-femara-hormone-therapy
If your breast cancer tumor is estrogen- and/or progesterone-receptor (ER/PR) positive, that's good news because it means you have more treatment options and may benefit from anti-estrogen therapy.   Read More

Video: Perspectives on Drugs and Side Effects

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