Chemotherapy medications for breast cancer include:
- Abraxane (chemical name: paclitaxel)
- Adriamycin (chemical name: doxorubicin)
- carboplatin (brand name: Paraplatin)
- Cytoxan (chemical name: cyclophosphamide)
- daunorubicin (brand names: Cerubidine, DaunoXome)
- Doxil (chemical name: doxorubicin)
- Ellence (chemical name: epirubicin)
- fluorouracil (also called 5-fluorouracil or 5-FU; brand name: Adrucil)
- Gemzar (chemical name: gemcitabine)
- Halaven (chemical name: eribulin)
- Ixempra (chemical name: ixabepilone)
- methotrexate (brand names: Amethopterin, Mexate, Folex)
- Mitomycin (chemical name: mutamycin)
- mitoxantrone (brand name: Novantrone)
- Navelbine (chemical name: vinorelbine)
- Taxol (chemical name: paclitaxel)
- Taxotere (chemical name: docetaxel)
- thiotepa (brand name: Thioplex)
- vincristine (brand names: Oncovin, Vincasar PES, Vincrex)
- Xeloda (chemical name: capecitabine)
In many cases, chemotherapy medicines are given in combination, which means you get two or three different medicines at the same time. These combinations are known as chemotherapy regimens. In early stage breast cancer, standard chemotherapy regimens lower the risk of the cancer coming back. In advanced breast cancer, chemotherapy regimens make the cancer shrink or disappear in about 30-60% of people treated. Keep in mind that every cancer responds differently to chemotherapy.
Standard chemotherapy regimens include:
- AT: Adriamycin and Taxotere
- AC ± T: Adriamycin and Cytoxan, with or without Taxol or Taxotere
- CMF: Cytoxan, methotrexate, and fluorouracil
- CEF: Cytoxan, Ellence, and fluorouracil
- FAC: fluorouracil, Adriamycin, and Cytoxan
- CAF: Cytoxan, Adriamycin, and fluorouracil
(The FAC and CAF regimens use the same medicines but use different doses and frequencies)
- TAC: Taxotere, Adriamycin, and Cytoxan
- GET: Gemzar, Ellence, and Taxol
Depending on the characteristics of the cancer, a targeted therapy medicine, such as Herceptin (chemical name: trastuzumab), may be used in combination with some chemotherapy regimens. For example, the TCH regimen includes Taxotere, Herceptin, and carboplatin.
Your doctor may talk about certain groups of chemotherapy medicines:
- Anthracyclines are chemically similar to an antibiotic. Anthracyclines damage the genetic material of cancer cells, which makes the cells die. Adriamycin, Ellence, and daunorubicin are anthracyclines.
- Taxanes interfere with the way cancer cells divide. Taxol, Taxotere, and Abraxane are taxanes.
Most standard chemotherapy regimens include a medicine from one or both of these groups.