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Breast Cancer

Chemo

08/21/2007

Question:

If a woman is frail and very thin can chemo do more harm than good? How do they determine this? If not then how would they treat breast cancer? Can chemo really work or does it kill faster than cancer?

Answer:

Just because a woman is thin and frail it does not mean that she would suffer more harm due to the chemotherapy. Chemotherapy has side effects such as nausea, vomiting, low blood counts and fatigue etc. There is no definitive way to pick out women who will develop these side-effects and who will not. Chemotherapy works well in breast cancer in general but one cannot pick out the women who will certainly benefit and who will not. Certain features seen in the tumors in patients with breast cancer will help guide the cancer doctors to decide if that particular patient will benefit from chemotherapy or other therapies. Still, one cannot predict with complete certainty whether an individual will respond or not.

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Response by:

Bhuvaneswari  Ramaswamy, MD Bhuvaneswari Ramaswamy, MD
Assistant Professor of Medical Oncology
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University