Breast Cancer Home > High-Dose Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer

Researchers are studying high-dose chemotherapy for breast cancer to determine if it is a better treatment option than standard chemotherapy. High-dose chemotherapy for breast cancer does carry a greater risk for more serious side effects; therefore, it is best to have it done at an established transplant center or medical institution conducting a clinical trial.

High-Dose Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer: A Summary

In breast cancer research trials, researchers are testing high-dose chemotherapy to find out if it is better than standard chemotherapy. They are trying to learn if higher doses of drugs can prevent or delay the spread or return of breast cancer better than standard doses of drugs, as well as which type of treatment helps patients live longer.
 
Patients who receive high-dose chemotherapy for breast cancer are at greater risk of suffering life-threatening side effects because the treatment damages their bone marrow and they no longer are able to produce needed blood cells.
 
(Click Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer to learn about standard breast cancer chemotherapy.)
 

Transplantation

To help repair the damage done by the high doses of drugs, the high-dose treatment includes peripheral blood stem-cell transplantation and/or bone marrow transplantation.
 
Peripheral Blood Stem-Cell Transplantation
Peripheral blood stem-cell transplantation involves the removal of a certain type of blood cell (stem cell) from a patient's blood. Stem cells are immature cells from which all blood cells develop as they are needed. Stem cells can divide and form more stem cells (copies of themselves), or they can become fully mature red blood cells (erythrocytes), platelets, and white blood cells (leukocytes).
 
The removed stem cells are frozen and stored while the patient is treated with high-dose chemotherapy. After chemotherapy ends and the drugs are gone from the body, the stem cells are returned to the patient through an IV. The healthy stem cells can then begin to grow and produce all types of blood cells the patient needs to survive.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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