Continuing Medical Education

Side-effects of systemic therapy for the management of breast cancer

Anne Gudgeon


Systemic treatment for breast cancer is given as neoadjuvent therapy to reduce tumour bulk before surgery, and as adjuvant therapy after surgery to control micrometastatic disease, reduce tumour bulk and improve quality of life in metastatic disease. Systemic therapy is divided into endocrine therapy, chemotherapy and biological response modifier therapy. All therapies will cause a higher rate of anxiety and depression, and loss of libido, which for many is a major problem. In pre-menopausal patients fertility issues should be discussed as the agents used can cause a decrease in or, in some cases, loss of fertility.

Author's affiliations

Anne Gudgeon, Oncology Unit, Life Vincent Pallotti Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa

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Chemotherapy; Side-effects

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2014;104(5):381. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.8250

Article History

Date submitted: 2014-03-25
Date published: 2014-04-05

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