Medical oncology is where some of the greatest advances in survivorship are happening. Today’s systemic treatments for breast cancer are so much more than chemotherapy.
For many women chemotherapy can be avoided with a variety of hormonal approaches. In addition, at the Lahey Health Cancer Institute (LHCI), we are using targeted treatments to defeat breast cancer at its very core – the molecular level.
Oncology Care Model
Chemotherapy treatment at LHCI reflects the Oncology Care Model (OCM) designed by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, in which we provide a wide variety of special support services for patients receiving chemotherapy. Learn more about OCM.
Today’s chemotherapy drugs are more effective than ever before. Most chemotherapy regimens have fewer side effects, and if side effects do occur, we have treatments to help manage them.
The chemotherapy units throughout the Lahey Health are designed to enhance patient comfort and ease of treatment. Family members or friends may stay with you while you are receiving chemotherapy. Many of our locations provide free television service and free WiFi.
Hormone therapies can block the body’s ability to produce estrogen and progesterone, which can slow or stop the growth of hormone receptor-positive breast cancers. Some of the most significant advances in breast cancer treatment over the past three decades have involved the discovery and application of increasingly more effective hormonal treatments.
Molecular-targeted cancer therapies are drugs or other substances that block the spread of cancer by interfering with specific molecules involved in tumor growth. It includes drugs that:
- Interfere with the signals needed for cell growth or the blood vessels that feed a tumor
- Promote the death of specific cancer cells
- Stimulate the immune system to destroy specific cancer cells
- Deliver toxic drugs to cancer cells
Targeted drugs can be used to address breast cancer cells with a certain genetic makeup, such as the HER2/neu protein, which tend to grow and spread faster than other breast cancers. Because every breast cancer is unique, we will analyze the genetic makeup of your cancer to match you with the most effective targeted treatment for the best possible outcome.
Immunotherapy for breast cancer involves the use of substances made either in the human body or in a laboratory to boost the body’s immune system. The goal is to stimulate your body’s immune system to fight against your particular type of cancer.
Fertility Counseling and Genetic Testing
If you are concerned about how your treatment might affect future plans to have a child, we offer fertility counseling services. We also offer genetic testing for you and family members, to look for certain markers that could help assess risk as well as guide treatments and decision making.