ABRAXANE and Advanced Breast Cancer
What should I know about metastatic breast cancer?
What is metastatic breast cancer?
Breast cancer is a tumor (TOO-mer) that starts in the breast. A tumor is an abnormal mass of tissue. When a tumor is malignant (muh-LIG-nuhnt), it means that it is cancerous.
When breast cancer spreads from the breast to other parts of the body, it is called metastatic (met-tuh-STA-tik) breast cancer (MBC). This type of cancer is also called advanced or stage 4 breast cancer.
How many people have metastatic breast cancer?
If you have MBC, you are not alone:
- More than 155,000 people in the United States are living with MBC
- 231,840 new cases of breast cancer are predicted in 2015
- 30% of women originally diagnosed with early stage breast cancer are estimated to become advanced or metastatic at some point in their lives
- About 5% of people with breast cancer will be diagnosed with MBC from the start rather than after an early stage diagnosis
Are some people more at risk for breast cancer?
There are certain factors that affect a person’s chance of getting breast cancer. It is important to know that having 1 or more risk factors does not mean that you will definitely get breast cancer. And some people may get this type of cancer even if they don’t have any risk factors.
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In addition to a person’s age, gender, race, and family history—all things that can’t be changed—there are risk factors for breast cancer that are considered lifestyle factors. This means that they can be controlled to some degree.
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What is ABRAXANE?
ABRAXANE is a prescription medicine used to treat advanced breast cancer in people who have already received certain other medicines for their cancer.
ABRAXANE is a chemotherapy (KEE-moh-THAYR-uh-pee). Chemotherapy is a type of medicine that is used to keep cancer cells from growing or to kill cancer cells. Treatment with ABRAXANE may help control or slow the spread of cancer cells.
Your doctor may recommend treatment with ABRAXANE based on the stage of your cancer, your response to prior therapy, and your overall health. Only your doctor can help you decide if ABRAXANE is right for you.
What is in ABRAXANE?
ABRAXANE is a different formulation of the cancer-fighting medicine paclitaxel (PAK-li-TAK-sel). ABRAXANE is made by binding paclitaxel to albumin (al-BYOO-min). Albumin is a protein found in the blood.
Here is what this means to you:
- Because ABRAXANE is bound to albumin, no solvents are needed to dissolve it
- Solvents are chemicals that dissolve some medicines so that they can be given by infusion (in-FYOO-zhun)
- Some solvents can cause allergic reactions
- Since ABRAXANE does not contain solvents, it is not usually necessary to take medicines to prevent allergic reactions before ABRAXANE is given. These medicines are called premedication
It is important to know that allergic reactions can occur with ABRAXANE. Premedication may be needed if you have had an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions may be severe and can lead to death. In case of severe allergic reaction, ABRAXANE should not be used again.
How does ABRAXANE work?
ABRAXANE may help stop cancer cells from dividing and making new cells. ABRAXANE works by blocking the action of proteins called microtubules (MY-kroh-TOO-byools). These proteins help cells divide.
Systemic (sis-TEH-mik) treatments like ABRAXANE are used to treat metastatic (meh-tuh-STA-tik) cancer. This is cancer that has spread from one part of the body to another. It is also known as advanced or stage 4 cancer. Systemic treatments travel through the bloodstream. This makes it possible to reach cells in many parts of the body, including cancer cells. ABRAXANE may also affect normal cells. This may cause side effects.
How is ABRAXANE given?
ABRAXANE and carboplatin are given by intravenous (IN-truh-VEE-nus), or IV, infusion (in-FYOO-zhun). To begin the infusion:
- A nurse inserts a thin, soft tube into your vein to give the medicine. This is often called an IV. If you have a central line in place, the nurse will use that to give you the medicine
- ABRAXANE flows through the IV into your bloodstream
- After each infusion, the nurse removes the IV or the device that delivered the medicines through your central line. Your central line or port stays in place
Treatment with ABRAXANE can cause irritation where the medicine is injected (injection site reactions). You should be monitored by your doctor or nurse during and after you receive ABRAXANE to make sure no problems occur at the injection site. In some cases, these problems occurred 7 to 10 days after the medicine was injected.
Your treatment with ABRAXANE will be given in your doctor’s office, at a hospital, or at an infusion center. Each infusion of ABRAXANE takes 30 minutes. Tests, checkups, or waiting time may affect the length of treatment sessions.
How often will I be given ABRAXANE?
ABRAXANE is given once every 3 weeks. If you have questions about your treatment schedule, ask your doctor.