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.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is recommending sweeping changes in its breast cancer screening guidelines.
The USPSTF, which is a group of independent health experts convened by the Department of Health and Human Services, reviewed and commissioned research to develop computer-simulated models comparing the expected outcomes under different screening scenarios.
Here are the USPSTF's recommendations, based on all that work:
Routine screening of average-risk women should begin...
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.