Chemotherapy drugs work to kill cancer cells and stop their growth. At Memorial Sloan Kettering, we often use these drugs by themselves in metastatic (advanced) disease and in combinations of two or three at once after surgery.

Chemotherapy drugs we commonly use include:

Common combinations include:

  • Dose dense AC-T (AC followed by paclitaxel every other week or weekly)
  • Dose dense AC-TH (AC followed by paclitaxel, trastuzumab)
  • Dose dense AC-THP (AC followed by paclitaxel, trastuzumab, pertuzumab)
  • CMF (cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, 5-fluorouracil)
  • TC (docetaxel, cyclophosphamide)
  • TCH (docetaxel, carboplatin, trastuzumab)
  • TCHP (docetaxel, carboplatin, trastuzumab, pertuzumab)
  • T-DM1 (adotrastuzumab-emtansine)

Side Effects of Chemotherapy

You may experience side effects from your chemotherapy treatment, but we can help you find ways to manage many of them. Be sure to tell your doctor or nurse of any side effects that are bothersome.

Whether you experience side effects with chemotherapy depends on the drug, dose, combination, and schedule of treatment. Your healthcare team will give you information about the side effects you may experience based on your specific regimen.

We also may recommend that you take medicines to support and protect your body while you undergo chemotherapy. Types of supportive drugs include antinausea medicines; some people receive medicines to increase the body’s output of certain blood cells. 

One side effect of chemotherapy is hair loss. At MSK, we will soon offer our breast cancer patients the Dignicap, a scalp cooling device that has been proven to reduce hair loss caused by chemotherapy. Learn more about scalp cooling or ask your care team for more information.