Treatments in Common Use for Metastatic Breast Cancer A - G

Four fundamentally different kinds of drugs are used to treat metastatic breast cancer:

·          Cytotoxic chemotherapy: Cytotoxic (cell-killing) chemotherapy drugs are poisons that disrupt cancer cell functions, usually while a cell is dividing. Listed in yellow.

·          Hormonal treatments: Hormonal treatments target breast cancers that grow in the presence of estrogen (and sometimes progesterone), and are used only for tumors that are ER+ and/or PR+ Listed in blue.

·          Targeted therapies or biologics: Targeted therapies are biologics that target specific genes that make proteins that stimulate cell growth (oncogenes), and may only work if the tumor overexpresses certain proteins. Listed in pink.

·          Other common medications: Intravenous bisphosphonates for bone metastases, and biological response modifiers that offer growth- factor support for patients undergoing chemotherapy. Listed in orange.


About this drug chart:

·          This chart does not include supportive medications to treat symptoms of the cancer or side-effects of treatment, for example drugs given for pain and nausea.

·          Each drug has three hyperlinks: 1) the manufacturer’s website (if the drug is still “on patent” and there is one); 2) the FDA-approved prescribing information that appears on the drug label, from RxList.com, and 3) patient-friendly information about use and side-effects at ChemoCare.com, developed by the Cleveland Clinic.

·          Some drugs are approved for use in other cancers and other diseases.

·          Doctors may use drugs to treat metastatic breast cancer even though they are not FDA approved for this use (called an "indication"). If there is high-quality research supporting this use, insurance and Medicare will usually reimburse. This is known as “off-label” use. Strictly speaking, much treatment for metastatic breast cancer is off-label.

·          New research is constantly being presented at conferences or published in peer-reviewed oncology journals looking at whether these and other drugs, used singly or in combination, will benefit metastatic breast cancer patients. For recent updates, look in Research and Emerging Treatments.

·          Also, see NCCN Practice Guidelines for Chemotherapy and Endocrine therapy in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer.

Brand Name and Website

Generic Name

Drug Type and Administration

Prescribing Information

Links to Patient-Friendly info

Abraxane®

paclitaxel abumin-bound

Cytotoxic chemotherapy: Plant alkyloid, microtubule agent, Taxol dissolved in albumin, less toxic IV infusion, lessens allergic response

RxListl

Abraxane at ChemoCare

Adriamycin®

doxorubicin

Cytotoxic chemotherapy: Antibiotic anthracycline IV injection or infusion

RxList

Adriamycin at ChemoCare

Adrucil®

5-fluorouracil [5-FU]

Cytotoxic chemotherapy: Alkylating agent, antimetabolite IV injection or infusion (see Xeloda)

RxList

5-FU at ChemoCare

Aranesp®

darbopoeitin alfa

Biologic response modifier: Erythropoeisis-stimulating agent (treats anemia caused by chemotherapy) SubQ injection, IV infusion, 3 weekly

RxList

Aranesp at ChemoCare

Aredia®

pamidronate

Bisphosphonate: decreases hypercalcemia, fractures, pain in patients with bone mets Standard of care for bone metastases IV infusion, monthly or less often

RxList

Aredia at ChemoCare

Afinitor® everolimus mTOR inhibitor, targeted treatment to overcome resistance to hormonal therapy  RxList

Afinitor at ChemoCare

Arimidex®

anastrozole

Hormone therapy: anti-estrogen Aromatase inhibitor Oral, daily

RxList

Arimidex at ChemoCare

Aromasin®

exemestane

Hormone therapy: anti-estrogen Aromatase inactivator. Oral, daily

RxList

Aromasin at ChemoCare

Avastin®

bevacizumab

Monoclonal antibody: targets VEG-F Anti-angiogenesis, targets tumor blood supply IV infusion, 3 weekly

RxList

Avastin at ChemoCare

Camptosar®

irinotecan

Cytotoxic chemotherapy: plant alkaloid, topoisomerase I inhibitor IV injection (investigational)

RxList

Irinotecan at ChemoCare

Cytoxan®

cyclophosphamide

Cytotoxic chemotherapy: Alkylating agent IV infusion or injection, oral

RxList

Cytoxan in ChemoCare

Doxil®

doxorubicin liposomal

Cytotoxic chemotherapy: Anthracycline bound to liposomes, alternative to Adriamycin, epirubicin IV infusion

RxList

Doxil in ChemoCare

Ellence®

epirubicin

Cytotoxic chemotherapy: Anthracycline, similar to Adriamycin, Doxil IV infusion

RxList

Epirubicin in ChemoCare

Evista®

raloxifene

Hormonal treatment: Selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) Oral daily (not used yet in MBC)

RxList

Raloxifene in ChemoCare

Faslodex®

fulvestrant

Hormonal therapy: SERD (selective estrogen receptor down-regulator) Monthly injection.

RxList

Faslodex in ChemoCare

Femara®

letrozole

Hormonal therapy: Aromatase inhibitor Oral daily.

RxList

Femara in ChemoCare

Gemzar®

gemcitabine

Cytotoxic chemotherapy: Antimetabolite IV infusion, 3 weekly

RxList

Gemzar in ChemoCare

Halaven®

eribulin mesylate

Cytotoxic chemotherapy: Non-taxane microtubule inhibitor, IV injection

RxList

 

        (Continued) Standard Treatments H through Z

© Copyright Musa Mayer 2011