Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer
Chemotherapy Drugs used in Breast Cancer:
- Abraxane (chemical name: paclitaxel)
- Taxotere (chemical name: docetaxel)
- Taxol (chemical name: paclitaxel)
- Adriamycin (chemical name: doxorubicin)
- Doxil (chemical name: doxorubicin)
- Cytoxan (chemical name: cyclophosphamide)
- Daunorubicin (brand names: Cerubidine, DaunoXome)
- Fluorouracil (also called 5-fluorouracil or 5-FU; brand name: Adrucil)
- Gemzar (chemical name: gemcitabine)
- Carboplatin (brand name: Paraplatin)
- Thiotepa (brand name: Thioplex)
- Vincristine (brand names: Oncovin, Vincasar PES, Vincrex)
- Ellence (chemical name: epirubicin)
- Ixempra (chemical name: ixabepilone)
- Methotrexate (brand names: Amethopterin, Mexate, Folex)
- Mitomycin (chemical name: mutamycin)
- Mitoxantrone (brand name: Novantrone)
- Navelbine (chemical name: vinorelbine)
- Xeloda (chemical name: capecitabine)
Different Regimens of Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer:
Chemotherapy drugs are usually given in combinations. A drug which acts on the cancer cells in a particular manner is combined with another drug which acts on them in a differnt manner. These combinations are known as regimens.
- AC (or CA): Adriamycin (doxorubicin) and cyclophosphamide given 3-weekly for 4 cycles.
- CMF :cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, and 5-fluorouracil given 4-weekly for 6 cycles.
- FAC (or CAF): 5-fluorouracil, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide given 3-weekly for 6 cycles.
- AC-Taxol: AC given 3-weekly for 4 cycles followed by paclitaxel given either 3-weekly for 4 cycles or weekly (at a smaller dose) for 12 weeks.
- TAC: Taxotere (docetaxel), Adriamycin (doxorubicin), and cyclophosphamide given 3-weekly for 6 cycles.
- FEC: 5-fluorouracil, epirubicin and cyclophosphamide given 3-weekly for 6 cycles.
- FECD: FEC given 3-weekly for 3 cycles followed by docetaxel given 3-weekly for 3 cycles.
- TC: Taxotere (docetaxel) and cyclophosphamide given 3-weekly for 4 or 6 cycles.
- GET: Gemzar, Ellence, and Taxol
- Dose dense regimen: Some of the regimens above (e.g. AC followed by paclitaxel) may be given in a shorter period (i.e. every 2 weeks instead of every 3 weeks).
- Trastuzumab: In addition to chemotherapy, trastuzumab may also be added to the regimen depending on the tumor characteristics (i.e. HER2/neu status) and risk of relapse. Also called Herceptin, it is usually given either 3 weekly or weekly for a total duration of 1 year.
Other Specific Drugs for Breast Cancer Chemotherapy:
- Anthracyclines: These are chemically similar to antibiotics but work against cancer cells. They specifically target the genetic material of the cells. Some examples are Adriamycin, Ellence, and Daunorubicin.
- Taxanes: They prevent the active division of cancer cells. Some examples are Taxol, Taxotere, and Abraxane.
Besides chemotherapy, certain drugs target the estrogen receptors in breast cells. Since some breast cancers are estrogen receptor positve, these drugs are effective against these type of breast cells. They constitute the hormonal therapy of breast cancer.
Next: Types of Chemotherapy