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Treating MBC
What is the best treatment for me?

There is no single ‘best’ treatment for metastatic breast cancer, and what works for one person may not necessarily work for you. Some people may receive a combination of therapies – such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy – while others may receive only one therapy at a time.

There are many different factors that affect which cancer treatment is best for you. These factors include the biology of the tumour (or adenocarcinoma), the sites of metastases in your body, any prior treatments you have received for breast cancer, and any treatments you are currently taking for other diseases. 

The goal of cancer treatment is to help control the spread of the disease in your body and improve your quality of life. 

Expect to change treatments over time: This is because your cancer can develop resistance to a given treatment, and you may need to switch to another treatment to which your cancer is more likely to respond. You may stop taking a treatment because of side effects.

People react differently to different cancer treatments, so it is impossible to predict if your cancer will respond to a treatment or not. Always remember that the decision to take a certain treatment, or to change treatments, is one that you should make with your doctor.

What are the main types of treatment for MBC?

MBC is treated with drug therapy.
Radiotherapy, and rarely surgery, may also be used when necessary for disease or symptom control. 
The three main types of drug therapy that you can be offered to control your cancer are chemotherapy (often shortened to just ‘chemo’), anti-hormonal therapy and targeted therapy.

In addition, you may be given treatments to help relieve the symptoms of the cancer or of the metastases in your body.

Among the most important of these treatments are bone stabilising agents such as bisphosphonates or denosumab which are given to help strengthen your bones, particularly in cases of bone metastases.

Expect regular check-ups: Your doctor will ask you to come for regular visits to make sure that your treatment is working, to discuss with you how you are feeling. This will mean more tests, some of which may require you to stay overnight in a hospital. 

 

 

What side effects will I have?

Side effects depend on the particular type of treatment you are receiving – and vary greatly from drug to drug. 

Also, everyone reacts differently to treatment. 
The side effects one person has may be very different from the ones that you have. 

Read more about side effects.

Should I join a clinical trial?

Your doctor may suggest that you take part in a clinical trial. 
This may be so that you can get a new cancer drug or a drug that is not yet available in your country. 

Clinical trials are cancer research studies which look at whether a new treatment is effective, well tolerated, and possibly better than the usual treatments given to patients for that condition.


 

As treatments for MBC are changing all the time, 
participating in a clinical trial may allow you to receive a new treatment that could help you.

Read more about clinical trials.

How can I make the best use of my time with my doctor?

There is a lot that you can do to make the best out of each appointment you have with your doctor. 
Some key tips are:

Prepare some questions in advance so that you are sure you don’t forget to ask them.

Always try to bring a family member or friend with you to each appointment 
to take notes and listen, so that you can be sure you do not miss anything the doctor 
or care team tells you.

Take notes so that you can refer back to them when you are at home. 

Take your time and don’t be afraid to request more time from your care team: you deserve
it, and it will allow you to take a more active role in any decisions made about your care.

There is no single way to treat MBC 
that is right for everyone.

Key points to consider about your cancer treatment

  • Treatment for MBC is life-long – and you may have to take different treatments over time. 
  • Always tell your doctor about any side effects you may be having. There are things they can do to help.
  • Try not to plan anything you can’t cancel for the first few days after your intravenous treatment.
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