Sarah was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2010. This insightful patient story details how she has coped with her diagnosis over the last few years.
The Haven is a breast cancer charity that offers advice and support to cancer patients if their cancer returns. Learn more.
Sometimes cancer patients find out that their cancer has returned. The Haven is a breast cancer charity that offers advice and support to cancer patients in this position.
For many men, coping with a “woman’s disease” can be tough. Watch to learn about the difficulties of male breast cancer.
Men diagnosed with breast cancer often know little about medical procedures to treat it. Learn here about going to the doctor with breast cancer
Learn about treatment for male breast cancer, and hear from a cancer patient in our video interview.
Breast cancer can affect men but is rare. Learn what the risk factors for men are for developing breast cancer.
Men with breast cancer often complain that there is not enough information available that targets male cancer patients. Learn more.
Learn more about breast cancer in our short video interview with a breast care nurse specialist.
When Melanie was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer, she was told that her chances of surviving were slim. Now after surgery and several years of treatment she is enjoying her life to the fullest.
Chemotherapy uses a range of drugs to treat breast cancer. In this video we examine monotherapy and combination therapy and answer the question what is chemotherapy?
Metastatic cancer describes when cancer cells have migrated from the primary cancer site to another part of the body. Learn more about metastasis from our video.
Adjusting to a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer can be a difficult process. Watch our interview with a healthcare professional to find out more.
Clinical trials exist to test the efficacy of drugs and other treatments. Watch our video on clinical trials and breast cancer.
Clinical trials exist to test the efficacy of drugs and other treatments. Watch our video on clinical trials terminology.
Hormone sensitive breast cancer is fuelled by naturally produced female hormones. Turning the fuel supply off can make a difference.
Breast Cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in the UK. Watch our video series to find out about breast cancer help and support.
Susan has been undergoing treatments for metastatic breast cancer for more than 6 years.
What can a clinical trial do for you? Watch this video to find out
A video explaining the types of and treatment for advanced breast cancer available to patients and the considerations needed when choosing therapy.
Although treatable, advanced breast cancer is a fatal disease. There are many different treatment approaches for advanced (secondary) breast cancer with quality of life becoming increasingly important when the cancer has spread.
Breast cancer is more than one disease. It can be divided into different subtypes:
• Hormone sensitive, also known as hormone receptor or ER-positive breast cancer – This type of breast cancer is stimulated to grow by the hormones oestrogen or progesterone. Approximately two out of three breast cancers are hormone sensitive.
• HER2-positive – The cancer cells have too many receptors for the HER2 protein. This type of breast cancer tends to spread faster than other forms and occurs in 20-25% of patients.
• Triple negative – A group of breast cancers that lack oestrogen and progesterone receptors and do not over-express the HER2 protein. Around 10-17% of cancers are triple negative.
Each subtype responds to drugs in different ways and has different treatment protocols.
There are three main classes of drugs used to treat advanced and secondary breast cancer:
• Hormone therapy, also called endocrine treatment – Drugs that affect the oestrogen levels within the patient
• Chemotherapy – A term given to drugs that essentially poison the cancer cells. They are usually given by injection although there are tablet forms. Chemotherapy drugs may be given one at a time or in combination. They are considered a more aggressive form of treatment and whilst they are good at treating the cancer, they will have some significant side effects for most patients
• Targeted therapies, also called biological treatments – Drugs that target specific cancer cells. Most new treatments becoming available are in this class of drugs.
The questions that need to be asked before deciding upon the best treatment programme for advanced breast cancer are:
• What is acceptable for the patient?
• What are her expectations?
• What is the balance between benefit and side effects that she is prepared to accept?
This information can be used to select the most appropriate treatment for each patient.
For those who are offered chemotherapy there is often a decision to be made as to how aggressive the treatment should be, as explained by Professor of Medical Oncology, Rob Coleman: “The general rule is that the better the treatment, the worse the side effects. The most active drug in secondary breast cancer is docetaxel (Taxotere®). It is an aggressive treatment affecting a patient’s hair. It can make the patient very tired, achy, and prone to infection. For this reason it is not for everybody, but if you really want to get on top of the cancer it is a good choice.
Then there are drugs that do not affect the patient’s hair like capecitabine (Xeloda®) or carboplatin (Paraplatin®). It is possible to tailor treatment to the wishes and expectations of the patient and match up benefit against side effects.”
Professor Rob Coleman continues: “I’ve got a patient at the moment that unfortunately has the disease affecting her liver and lungs, but she is a real dynamo. She wants to continue to work, she is trying to build a new house and she wants to complete that project. She will cope with anything that is thrown at her and wants the most aggressive treatment and the option that is going to let her live the longest.
Professor Rob Coleman, MBBS, MD, FRCP (London & Edinburgh)
Honorary Consultant, Weston Park Hospital
Professor of Medical Oncology, Weston Park Hospital, Sheffiled
10013 October 2011comments powered by Disqus