Targeted Therapies for Metastatic Breast Cancer— Here's What You Should Know

Targeted drug treatment treats breast cancer by administering drugs that specifically interfere with the growth, metastasis, and survival of the cancer cells by binding to specific proteins on the surface of the cancerous cells. Drugs that specifically target cancer cells may kill or suppress the development of malignant tissue. Their adverse effects are distinct from those of chemotherapy.

Certain medications used in targeted treatment, such as monoclonal antibodies, may also be termed immunotherapy because of their effect on the body's immune system.

These medications, like chemotherapy, can enter the circulation and travel throughout the body, making them effective against metastasized malignancies. Sometimes targeted drugs are effective even when standard chemotherapies are not. It has been shown that some targeted medications may improve the efficacy of other treatments.

Breast cancer may be treated with a variety of targeted treatment medications.

Treatment Options for Advanced Breast Cancer that has Spread

While treating cancer, it is typical for a multidisciplinary team of specialists to work together to develop a comprehensive treatment plan for the patient. A group of specialists from different fields is known as an interdisciplinary team. Medical oncologists, surgeons specializing in radiation oncology, radiologists, and pathologists are all ordinary members of multidisciplinary treatment teams for breast cancer patients.

Medical assistants, nurse practitioners, oncology nurses, genetic counselors, social workers, pharmacists, counselors, nutritionists, financial advisers, and other members of supporting care round out cancer care teams. Inquire the attending physician about the members and roles of the healthcare team caring for you. The answer to this question may evolve as your health requirements change.

In short, a treatment plan provides a synopsis of your cancer and the treatments prepared for it. Its purpose is to give the clinicians who treat you throughout your life a foundational understanding of your medical history. Get a copy of your treatment plan from your doctor before you start any therapy. As your medicine evolves, so may your treatment strategy.

For patients with metastatic breast cancer, the primary objectives of therapy are to achieve the following −'

  • Maximum expected duration of illness

  • Tolerable levels of cancer and treatment-related toxicity

  • highest possible standard of living for as long as possible

  • Metastatic breast cancer cannot be cured. However, it may be managed to allow for months or even years of high quality of life.

The success of therapy is also affected by several variables, such as the kind of breast cancer being treated, the extent to which the disease has progressed, and the types of therapies that have previously been attempted. Treatment failure is a common side effect of metastatic breast cancer, so you may need to switch medicines often.

It is essential to ask questions and take the time to learn about your treatment choices. Discuss the expected outcomes of each therapy with your doctor before starting any course of treatment. "Shared decision-making" refers to these kinds of discussions. You and your healthcare providers can make more informed decisions about which therapies are best for you. Because of the variety of available treatments for metastatic breast cancer, collaborative decision-making is especially crucial in this context.

After the results of the tests are in, you and your doctor may discuss your alternatives. Your treatment plan may include any or all of the below-described therapies. However, their order of implementation or duration may vary. Symptom and side effect management are crucial to your cancer treatment strategy.

Medications and their uses in the Treatment

Medication designed to kill cancer cells could be part of the therapy approach. A drug administered systemically may be able to treat cancer cells wherever they may be located. It is termed systemic treatment when a medicine is administered in this manner.

A medical oncologist, a physician who focuses on the pharmaceutical treatment of cancer, is the typical prescriber of this kind of care.

Many medications are administered by inserting an intravenous (IV) tube into a vein or by having the patient swallow a tablet or capsule (orally). Inquire about proper storage and handling instructions for any oral drugs prescribed to you.

Medication options for advanced breast cancer include −

  • Hormone replacement treatment

  • Chemotherapy

  • Intentional drug administration

  • Immunotherapy

We'll go into further depth about each of these treatment options below. Medication may be administered to a patient at a time or in combination. First-line therapy refers to the first regimen of drugs for advanced cancer. Second-line treatment is given if the malignancy does not respond to first-line therapy. Surgery and radiation therapy may be part of a comprehensive treatment strategy incorporating these modalities.

There is a persistent assessment of cancer treatments. The best approach to understanding the drugs your doctor has given you, their function, and any possible adverse effects or combinations with other medications is to talk with your doctor. You should inform your doctor if you are taking any additional drugs, whether prescribed or over-the-counter. Interactions between cancer treatments, herbs, vitamins, and other pharmaceuticals might lead to unpleasant side effects or diminished efficacy.

Hormone Replacement Treatment

Many cancers that test positive for estrogen receptors (ER) or progesterone receptors respond well to hormonal therapy, often known as endocrine therapy (PR).

Hormones themselves may fuel cancers with a positive hormone receptor stain. Hormonal treatment aims to reduce or prevent estrogen and progesterone from reaching cancer cells. To prevent cancer from growing, hormones must get cancer cells.

All patients with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer should undergo hormonal treatment. The treatment choices depend on several criteria, including −

  • It doesn't matter whether you've already gone through menopause or if you still have periods.

  • You are now getting or have previously received.

  • How much time had passed since cancer had returned

  • The extent of cancer and whether or not you have any symptoms that need to be addressed.

  • It depends on what you identify as


In chemotherapy, medications kill cancer cells by preventing them from surviving and multiplying.

For treating metastatic breast cancer, a wide variety of chemotherapy regimens may be used, each based on the results of clinical studies investigating the effectiveness of that particular regimen. Once a week, twice a month, three times a month, or four times a month are all possible administration intervals. The weekly schedules usually include a week off now and again. If the treatment is effective against cancer and the patient tolerates it well, chemotherapy is often administered indefinitely.

Patients with advanced breast cancer are often treated with monotherapy, meaning they get only one form of chemotherapy at a time. Nonetheless, depending on the patient's symptoms and prognosis, a combined chemotherapy plan may be recommended for certain patients with these cancers.


Nevertheless, developing novel diagnostic tools and therapeutic strategies is not the only factor in successfully treating and controlling metastatic breast cancer. Acupuncture, yoga, exercise, and proper diet are some alternative methods that may alleviate or prevent the adverse effects of medical treatment.

Patients may find that using any of these techniques improves their treatment tolerance; nonetheless, it is essential to discuss any changes with your doctor to ensure the best possible outcome.

Updated on: 03-Apr-2023


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