Chemotherapy is one of the most popular forms of cancer treatment out there. It involves one or more drugs that damage cancer cells so they can’t grow and reproduce (1). However, these drugs also damage healthy cells. What’s more, new research suggests that chemotherapy may cause cancer to spread and create even more aggressive tumors (2).
Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is one of the most common tumor types and becomes increasingly fatal as it metastasizes. American researchers have found that chemotherapy drugs typically taken by breast cancer patients increase the risk of metastasis.
Metastasis occurs when cancerous cells spread to new areas of the body by way of the lymphatic system or bloodstream. This causes the growth of new tumors far from the original affected site (3).
It’s important to note that doctors will tailor cancer treatment for each patient depending on factors such as age, drug sensitivity, medical history and possible previous cancer diagnosis. Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy may be used separately or together to treat breast cancer (4).
The study mentioned above specifically focussed on neoadjuvant chemotherapy using the drug paclitaxel after a dose of doxorubicin in combination with cyclophosphamide (5,6).
Breast Cancer is on the Rise
Recent statistics suggest that roughly 1 in 8 U.S. American women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime (7). Plus, “about 2,470 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2017”.
What’s more, breast cancer mortality rates are higher than those for any other cancer women in the U.S., besides lung cancer.
Chemotherapy is typically given before a mastectomy to shrink the tumor down but the therapy is pretty controversial. That’s because not only does it damage your healthy cells, leaving your body weak and unable to fight off cancer naturally, but it can also switch on a repair mechanism that allows tumors to grow stronger.