Skip to content

Breast Cancer Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

What Is Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer?

Chemotherapy is a chemical, or group of chemicals, designed to stop the growth of cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs may be given intravenously, orally, or as a combination of the two. There are many chemotherapy drugs used to treat breast cancer.

When breast cancer is limited to the breast or lymph nodes, chemotherapy may be given after a lumpectomy or mastectomy. This is done to help reduce the chance of breast cancer coming back.

Recommended Related to Breast Cancer

Tests for Diagnosing Breast Cancer

Bone scan Breast biopsy Breast self-exam Breast MRI Breast ultrasound Chemistry screen Chest x-ray Complete blood count (CBC) CT scan of the brain CT scan of chest abdomen pelvis Doctor's breast exam Ductal lavage Estrogen and progesterone receptor HER2 receptor status Mammogram Minimally invasive breast biopsy MRI scan Sentinel lymph node biopsy PE...

Read the Tests for Diagnosing Breast Cancer article > >

If the breast tumor is large, chemotherapy is sometimes given before surgery in order to shrink the tumor so it can be removed more easily, or so that a lumpectomy can be performed instead of a mastectomy.

Chemotherapy may also be given as the main treatment for women whose cancer has spread to other parts of the body outside of the breast and lymph nodes.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Sujana Movva, MD on April 26, 2015

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
 
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
 
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
VIDEO
Resolved To Quit Smoking
SLIDESHOW
 
Woman getting mammogram
Article
Screening Tests for Women
SLIDESHOW
 
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
serious woman
Article
 
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow
SLIDESHOW