Chemotherapy for secondary breast cancer
- does not have receptors for oestrogen (ER negative breast cancer)
- is HER2 positive and ER negative
- is triple negative
- has spread to the liver or lungs
- is growing quickly.
If the cancer has HER2 receptors you usually have a targeted therapy drug with chemotherapy.
Sometimes, a type of chemotherapy called electrochemotherapy is used when secondary breast cancer has spread to the skin.
Your cancer doctor or nurse will explain which drug, or drugs, are likely to be most helpful in your situation. You may have a single drug or a combination of drugs together.
Chemotherapy drugs used to treat secondary breast cancer include:
- capecitabine (Xeloda®)
- docetaxel (Taxotere®)
- doxorubicin (Adriamycin®)
- epirubicin (Pharmorubicin®)
- gemcitabine (Gemzar®)
- paclitaxel (Taxol®)
- eribulin (Halaven®)
- vinorelbine (Navelbine®).
The drugs you have depend on any previous chemotherapy you had. If you have not had an anthracycline drug, such as doxorubicin or epirubicin, you may have one of these. If it has been a long time since you had either drug, your doctor may suggest having it again. If you have already had an anthracycline drug, you may have docetaxel.
Below is a sample of the sources used in our secondary breast cancer information. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). www.nice.org.uk Pathways Advanced Breast Cancer, updated 2017 (accessed November 2017).
F Cardoso et al 3rd ESO–ESMO. International Consensus Guidelines for Advanced Breast Cancer. (ABC 3) 2016.
Bourke M et al Effective Treatment of Intractable Cutaneous Metastases of Breast Cancer with Electrochemotherapy: Ten-year Audit of Single Centre Experience. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment January 2017, Volume 161, Issue 2, pp 289–297.
This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Senior Medical Editors; Dr Russell Burcombe, Consultant Clinical Oncologist; Professor Mike Dixon, Professor of Surgery & Consultant Surgeon; and Dr Rebecca Roylance, Consultant Medical Oncologist.
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