Women's Health Tips


Available Treatments for a Metastisized Breast Tumor

At one time a woman who learned that her breast tumor had metastasized knew that she did not have long to live. At one time a metastasized tumor would be bound to spread quickly in the woman’s body. Now, however, thanks to the various treatment regimens, women have learned to live with a controlled metastatic disease.

There are three types of treatment for a metastasized breast tumor. One involves use of hormonal therapies, such as Tamoxifen or Arimidex. While such treatments typically have fewer side effects than chemotherapy, they only work for women who have an estrogen-positive breast tumor.

A second type of treatment involves use of Herceptin, a monoclonal antibody. Herceptin attacks only cells with the Her2 protein, i.e. it targets the cancer cells. Yet not all breast tumors have cells that over-express the Her2 protein, so not all breast cancer patients can benefit from the use of Herceptin.

A third type of treatment for metastatic breast tumors is chemotherapy. Researchers have sought medicines that could offer more and better treatments. Researchers have looked for drugs that can control the tumor without having a great impact on the patient’s ability to enjoy a normal life. One drug that has been used successfully is Gemzar.

Gemzar manages to prevent the growth of cancer cells by interfering with the way that the cells divide and repair themselves. When the cancer cells can not divide, they can not reproduce. Moreover, the cells lack the ability to correct any mistakes made while they attempt to divide. That slows their growth even further.

Gemzar does have expected side effects. Since it works on all cells that are dividing quickly, it can lead to hair loss. Researchers are now studying how Gemzar might be combined with another chemotherapy drug. The hope is that such a combination could kill cancer cells without subjecting the cancer patients to the unpleasant side effects.

Meanwhile, women with metastatic breast cancer are managing to live longer and fuller lives.

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