Best Medications for Metastatic Breast Cancer

If you have metastatic breast cancer, it’s important to not give up hope. For those who don’t know, metastatic breast cancer is characterized by breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, making it more difficult to treat. While you may not have as many options as breast cancer that was caught earlier, there are still plenty of medication options that can help kill cancer cells or block them, extending your life. The best treatment options for metastatic breast cancer include chemotherapy drugs and targeted therapy options that are designed to target cancer cells and prevent them from reproducing. Although these medications can't cure breast cancer, they can slow its spread and help patients live longer, more comfortable lives. Though metastasized cancer might seem like the end of the line, the truth is that it is a battle you can win. Read on to learn more about the best medications for metastatic breast cancer.

When are chemotherapy and targeted therapy used?

While they may be used in early stages of cancer, Chemotherapy and targeted therapy are also used for metastatic breast cancer patients once the cancer has spread from the breasts and underarms into other areas of the body. The amount of time you can be treated depends on how you respond to the treatment and whether you can handle the treatment. One or more of these treatments may be combined for effectiveness.

What are Taxanes?

A taxane is a type of chemotherapy option that works by blocking the growth of cancer cells by inhibiting cell division. Additionally, they can help inhibit the movement cancer cells as well. Some examples of taxanes include Taxol, Taxotere and Abraxane.

What are Anthracyclines?

Anthracyclines are class of drugs that work like antibiotics. In cancer cells, these drugs damage the DNA of cells which causes them to be destroyed. Examples of Anthracyclines include doxorubicin and epirubicin.

What are platinum agents?

Platinum agents are a class of chemotherapy drugs derived from platinum. One of the first of these drugs developed was cisplatin, which is still used today. But now there is another drug called carboplatin available. These drugs damage cancer cells, preventing DNA replication, transcription and cell division.

What is Vinorelbine?

Vinorelbine is a class of drugs that is exclusively delivered intravenously into the body. Like other drugs, it stops cell division, effectively killing off cancer cells. An example of Vinorelbine includes Navelbine.

What is Capecitabine?

Capecitabine is a type of chemotherapy used to treat metastatic breast cancer by stopping cell division and DNA replication, which causes the cells to rapidly die off. It is known by its brand name: Xeloda.

What is Gemcitabine?

Gemcitabine, also known as Gemzar, is a type of chemotherapy drug that is ingested by the cancer cell, which then interferes with the growth of that cancer cell. It is delivered intravenously once a week for several weeks or as directed by a doctor.

What is Ixabepilone?

Ixabepilone was approved exactly 10 years ago and is a drug that blocks the movement of cancer cells and induces cell death. It is delivered intravenously. Two examples of this drug include Ixempra and Abraxane.

What is Eribulin?

Eribulin offers one of the best survival rates of any other drug. It blocks the replication and growth of cancer cells. It is delivered over the course of a few weeks and is dripped through the arm intravenously. The brand name for this drug is Halaven.

What are the side effects for chemotherapy and targeted therapy?

Chemotherapy is known for its list of unpleasant side effects. Among the side effects are hair loss, sores on the body, changes in nail growth, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. These can also lead to weight loss. Targeted therapy drugs often come with side effects like severe diarrhea, but altogether come with much fewer side effects.

What is Trastuzumab?

Trastuzumab, also known as Herceptin, is a monoclonal antibody. It is a synthetic version of an immune system protein, which can be combined with a chemotherapy drug, and works by turning the mmune system against cancer cells specifically. Treatment can last up to a year long.

What is Pertuzumab?

Pertuzumab, also known as Perjeta is a monoclonal antibody that can be combined with trastuzumab and chemotherapy to treat advanced breast cancer. Like other targeted therapy drugs, it targets and kills cancer cells directly rather than indiscriminately.

What is ado-trastuzumab emtansine?

Ado-trastuzumab emtansine, also known as a TDM-1, is a targeted therapy drug that goes by the brand name, Kadcyla. It is a monoclonal antibody combined with a chemotherapy drug. Women who have already been treated with trastuzumab and chemotherapy may be given this drug. It is delivered intravenously, exclusively.

What is Lapatinib?

Lapatinib, going by the brand name Tykerb, is a type of targeted therapy called a kinase inhibitor taken as a pill, once a day. It works by blocking cell growth and division, as well as signaling. Lapatinib can be combined with chemotherapy drugs, hormone therapy drugs and trastuzumab.

What is Neratinib?

Neratinib, also known as Nerlynx is a kinase inhibitor. Like Lapatinib, it is a pill that is taken every day during treatment. It is usually not prescribed unless a woman has taken trastuzumab for at least one year. Only until recently has it been discovered to be effective for metastatic breast cancer as well.

What are CDK4/6 inhibitors?

Most targeted therapy drugs for breast cancer are HER2-positive, but there are also targeted therapy treatment options for hormone receptor-positive breast cancer types. CDK4/6 inhibitors can increase the effectiveness of hormone therapy. Ibrance, Kisqali and Verzenio block proteins called cyclin-dependent kinases located in cancer cells, preventing them from dividing and growing. These are usually taken as pills, once a day for up to three weeks.

What is Everolimus?

Everolimus, also reffered to by its brand name, Afinitor is meant for women who have gone through menopause. Used alongside a drug called Aromasin, this targeted therapy drug blocks proteins that help cancer cells divide and grow. Like CDK4 drugs, it is taken as a pill, daily.

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