Breast Cancer: Chemotherapy

Breast Cancer Medicine Service Chief Clifford Hudis Breast Cancer Medicine Service Chief Clifford Hudis speaks with a patient.

Chemotherapy drugs can help you fight breast cancer by interrupting the growth of cancer cells. At Memorial Sloan Kettering, we often use a combination of two or three of these drugs at once.

Chemotherapy drugs we commonly use include: 

Common combinations include:

  • AC (doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide)
  • AC-T (AC followed by paclitaxel)
  • EC (epirubicin, cyclophosphamide)
  • EC-T (EC followed by paclitaxel)
  • CMF (cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, 5-fluorouracil)
  • TC (docetaxel, cyclophosphamide)
  • TCH (docetaxel, carboplatin, trastuzumab)

Side Effects of Chemotherapy

Any side effects that you experience with chemotherapy depend on the drug, dose, combination, and schedule of treatment. Your healthcare team will review the side effects you may experience based on your specific regimen.

Side effects may include: 

There are ways to manage some of the side effects of chemotherapy while you receive your treatment. Always inform your doctor or nurse of any side effects that are bothersome or different from what you have experienced in the past.

Drugs for Side Effects

We may recommend that you take medicines to support and protect your body while you undergo chemotherapy to kill cancer cells. Types of supportive drugs include antinausea medicines, for example. Some people receive colony-stimulating factor medicines to increase the body’s output of certain blood cells; granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF), for example, can stimulate the body to produce infection-fighting white blood cells.