We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are the Pros and Cons of Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer?

By L. Burgoon
Updated Feb 22, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

When faced with a breast cancer diagnosis and a recommendation to undergo chemotherapy, patients have several pros and cons to weigh. Chemotherapy for breast cancer is a very common treatment plan because of its proven effectiveness at eradicating the disease. When used alone or with other treatments, chemotherapy may give a patient the best odds at survival. On the other hand, chemotherapy comes with well-known side effects that may make the treatment intolerable to some patients.

The primary advantage of using chemotherapy for breast cancer is the treatment’s proven track record. Advances in medical technology, more effective drugs, and better understanding of drug interactions have helped medical professionals devise treatment plans that more specifically target cancerous cells. Improved practices help ensure that cancerous cells are killed and make it less likely that patients will experience a recurrence of the cancer.

Another benefit to chemotherapy is the ability to continue a normal lifestyle during treatment. Many sessions require little, if any, hospitalization, although this is not true for every breast cancer patient. While patients may experience chemotherapy’s side effects during the cycle, the resting periods between cycles allows them to continue working, participating in social activities, and so on.

This treatment does not come without drawbacks, however, and it may cause a range of negative side effects that interfere with quality of life. Physical side effects often include nausea, hair loss, pain, weight loss or weight gain, and fatigue. These side effects are typically particularly pronounced during chemotherapy cycles, but may continue into resting periods. Breast cancer patients may find the side effects become increasingly severe as chemotherapy cycles progress, and this is often physically and mentally difficult for patients to bear.

Another disadvantage is jeopardized immunity. While targeting cancerous cells, chemotherapy drugs also lower white blood cell counts, which then lowers the body’s natural defenses against infection. Breast cancer patients using chemotherapy, therefore, must take extra precautions to avoid exposing themselves to infections or other illnesses.

It is important for patients to fully discuss the pros and cons of chemotherapy for breast cancer with a medical professional before embarking on the treatment. Patients should also educate themselves on alternatives to chemotherapy, such as radiation or surgery, to be able to consider whether there are better treatment options. Even if no better cancer treatment cannot be found, patients who arm themselves with the pros and cons of chemotherapy help take control of their treatment.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Scrbblchick — On Jan 28, 2014

When my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1989, she had a modified radical mastectomy and chemotherapy. Her oncologist said that, because three out of 17 lymph nodes they removed were positive for cancer cells, that placed her at a moderate risk for recurrence. So, he recommended chemo.

She had eight chemo treatments over six months. They weren't easy. Her hair fell out, she had nausea and a strange taste in her mouth. She had fatigue and memory problems. However, it's been nearly 25 years and here's what she doesn't have: cancer.

Her cancer was the common ductal carcinoma in situ, it was caught early and the tumor was not very big, plus it had clearly defined borders. She found the lump herself, in fact.

No, chemotherapy is no picnic, for sure. But it does work.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.