If chemotherapy is part of a woman's treatment plan, she will soon be challenged to understand what medications are available and what they can do for and to her.
Chemotherapy is the use of chemical agents to treat cancer. These chemicals can kill cancer cells or prevent them from making new cancer cells. Many times these drugs are used in combination with one another to maximize their effectiveness. That means a woman might be given two or three at a time.
What kind of medication is given as a part of chemotherapy depends on:
- the type of cancer
- where it is located
- how advanced it is (the stage)
- the woman's health profile
Take, for example, women with HER2-positive breast cancer, meaning the cancer cells test positive for a protein known as human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (or, HER2), which promotes the growth of cancer cells. Women with this type of cancer are treated with an anti-cancer drug — the monoclonal antibody trastuzumab — that fights only this type of cancer cell.