Certain drugs target estrogen receptor-positive or HER2-positive breast cancers. Research is examining whether better drugs or combinations can improve outcomes.
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ILLUSTRATION BY PAM CURRY, ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN “A NEW ERA,” CURE SPECIAL ISSUE: ADVANCES IN BREAST CANCER 2007
Chemotherapy drugs are also commonly used to treat different types of breast cancer. Chemotherapy kills cells that are in the process of dividing; in adults, that most often means cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs work by inhibiting the creation of nucleotides that are needed for DNA formation, by damaging the DNA itself, or by halting mitosis, the process by which the chromosomes containing DNA physically divide. These drugs as not as specific as hormonal or HER2-targeted therapies and can injure normal cells to a greater extent, and therefore tend to cause more side effects.