Cancer is brought on by alterations, or mutations, in the genes that control cell development. These cell mutations enable uncontrolled cell division and growth. The most frequently diagnosed malignant tumour in women worldwide and the leading cause of malignant tumour-related death is breast cancer.
Breast cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the breast tissue. Usually, breast cancer develops in the ducts or lobes of the breast. Milk is produced by lobules, and ducts are the channels that carry this milk through the glands towards the nipple. Moreover, cancer can develop in your breast fat deposits or fibrous connective tissue. The cancer cells can migrate to the lymph nodes underneath the arms and frequently infect the neighbouring healthy breast tissues. Breast cancer can acquire a passage to other body parts after it has entered the lymph nodes.
In all parts of the world, the occurrence of breast cancer is steadily rising. This makes it important to investigate novel treatment methods regardless of decline in death rates as a result of early diagnosis and treatment. According to the molecular subtype, different treatment approaches are used as a therapy plan. The interdisciplinary approach to treating breast cancer comprises systemic treatment as well as locoregional treatment (radiation and surgery treatment). Chemotherapy, anti-HER2 treatment, hormonal treatment for diseases that are hormone-positive, and immunotherapy are all examples of systemic therapies.
Classes of breast cancer drugs
Hormone therapy–The hormone receptors in breast cancer are targeted by this class of medications. Hormone receptor-positive cancer cells in the breast develop when female hormones oestrogen and progesterone are present. The effects of hormone therapy include lowered hormone levels or blocked hormone receptors in cancer cells.
Chemotherapy–The majorly followed treatment plan for breast cancer is this class of medication. Because of how chemotherapy functions, side effects can be expected. Chemotherapy either kills or blocks the development of rapidly dividing cells. Both cancerous cells, as well as some of your body’s healthy cells, fall within this category of rapidly dividing cells. Discuss the precise side effects of your breast cancer chemotherapy treatment with your doctor to get more information and increase awareness.
Targeted therapy–These medications identify indicators that aid in cancer cell (usually proteins resulting from faulty tumour genes) growth. Breast cancer-targeted medicines work by identifying and reducing the markers found mostly on cancer cells. This indicates that the medication slows down breast cancer cell development but does not affect healthy cells and their growth. This treatment approach occasionally helps where conventional chemotherapy fails. Physicians can manage hormone receptor-positive as well as HER2-positive breast tumours with this approach.
Aromatase inhibitors–These are a class of hormonal treatment drugs for breast cancer. They reduce hormone levels by inhibiting aromatase, an enzyme required for the production of oestrogen.
Commonly used breast cancer drugs
Physicians typically refer to cancer therapy protocols. Protocols outline the drug combinations and how medical professionals should administer them. Here is a list of the frequently recommended breast cancer drugs:
Cyclophosphamide is a chemo drug used for breast cancer that is available as an injectable and tablet. One cyclophosphamide pill per day is taken during treatment. Medical professionals administer the injection intravenously.
Exemestane is used to cure early-stage breast cancer in female patients who have undergone menopause and have previously received treatment with the drug tamoxifen for 2 to 3 years. It is a medicine that you are advised to consume once daily, following a meal, by your doctor to inhibit aromatase.
Anastrozole inhibits the aromatase enzyme. It treats breast cancer that develops in the presence of oestrogen by lowering the body’s oestrogen levels. Patients take a pill of anastrozole once daily.
Everolimus works by interfering with the signals that encourage cancer cells to multiply and divide. As a result, cancer cells can’t grow. A patient may have to take it once a day in the form of a tablet or a soluble tablet.
Fluorouracil is incorporated into chemotherapy treatment plans for all types of invasive breast cancer, namely triple-negative breast cancer. It may be utilised to cure breast cancer at any stage, even metastatic illness.
Letrozole aids in preventing the recurrence of breast cancer. It is typically recommended for women who have experienced menopause and have hormone-dependent breast cancer.
Lapatinib prevents proteins from signalling cancerous cells to multiply and develop. The progression-free survival rate (the time a patient has before cancer spreads) may be improved when lapatinib is coupled with chemotherapy, hormone treatment, or trastuzumab .
Palbociclib is used in combination with anastrozole, exemestane, or letrozole to cure a specific type of hormone receptor-positive, severe breast cancer (which tends to depend on hormones like oestrogen to develop), or breast cancer which has progressed to other organs in the body.
Even though methotrexate (MTX) is not considered a first-line treatment for breast cancer, it may be helpful in the fight against the condition. MTX is a powerful and reasonably priced medication that may inhibit cancerous growth without causing permanent harm to healthy cells.
A specific form of hormone receptor-positive, severe breast cancer or breast cancer which has progressed to other body parts in patients who have already received chemotherapy and an antioestrogen medicine can also be treated with a single dose of a drug called Abemaciclib.
A hormone therapy with a class of drugs called tamoxifen is administered to cure cancer of the breast that contains receptors of hormones. It can considerably reduce the risk of developing invasive cancer and having the disease relapse (return). Some patients may be prescribed tamoxifen to lower their breast cancer threat.
Which are the common chemotherapy drugs used in India to treat breast cancer?
Carboplatin, cyclophosphamide, paclitaxel, adriamycin, and 5 fluorouracil are some of the common chemotherapy drugs used in India to treat breast cancer
What drugs are used commonly for breast cancer treatment?
Cyclophosphamide, letrozole, abemaciclib, anastrozole, everolimus, exemestane, fluorouracil, lapatinib, letrozole, methotrexate, and palbociclib are some of the commonly used drugs to treat breast cancer.
What is the new drug for breast cancer in India?
Palenotm (Palbociclib) 75, 100, and 125 mg is a newly launched drug in India for breast cancer.
Can breast cancer be treated with drugs?
Yes, it can be treated with drugs by reducing or eliminating cancer cells. The drugs may be taken orally, injected intravenously, or occasionally through both means.