Breast Cancer Chemotherapy and Medical Oncology Services
UPMC CancerCenter's oncologists specializing in breast cancer offer a full range of therapies for all types and stages of breast cancer, including:
- Hormone therapy
- Targeted therapies
- Clinical trials and pathways
Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer
Chemotherapy is the use of anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells.
Receiving chemotherapy depends on the type and stage of breast cancer.
- Early-stage breast cancers — chemotherapy is often given after surgical treatment, but prior to radiation therapy, to prevent local recurrence. This is called adjuvant therapy.
- Larger breast tumors — chemotherapy may be given before surgery to help shrink the tumor. This is called neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
- Metastatic breast cancer — chemotherapy may be given to help reduce cancer-related symptoms.
Depending on the type and stage of the breast cancer, chemotherapy may be:
- Taken by mouth
- As an injection
- Given intravenously
Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer
Some hormones naturally produced by the body may cause certain cancers to grow. Hormone therapy stops cancer cells from growing by using drugs or surgery to reduce the production of hormones, or block them from working.
Hormone therapies are often given to people with early-stage or metastatic breast cancers.
Targeted Breast Cancer Therapies
Immunological and targeted therapies are treatments that use drugs or other substances to target cancer cells without causing harm to normal cells.
There are two types of targeted therapies being studied in the treatment of breast cancer:
- Monoclonal antibodies therapy — man-made antibodies (immune cells) that attach themselves to kill cancer cells, block their growth, or keep them from spreading. Often used in combination with chemotherapy.
- Tyrosine kinase inhibitors — drugs that block signals needed for tumors to grow. Often used in combination with other anticancer drugs.
Breast Cancer Clinical Trials and Pathways
UPMC CancerCenter patients also have access to the latest clinical trials through our collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, western Pennsylvania's only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.
When appropriate, people with breast cancer are placed on Clinical Pathways — disease-specific treatment strategies developed by physicians — to ensure all patients receive the same evidence-based care.
Each pathway combines innovative and promising clinical trial options with the best standard-of-care breast cancer therapies. Ongoing review by the clinical team ensures each pathway remains the best and most effective treatment option available.