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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Doctor (MD)
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Experience:  U.S. Physician/Surgeon in Neurosurgery
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A friend, 58 years old, past breast cancer history, 15 years

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A friend, 58 years old, past breast cancer history, 15 years ago, double mastectemy, now has recurrence , tumors upper leg bone, other locations as well, being treated at Dana- Farber, taking chemo once a week,   Question, why is she being given steroids before chemo? this is the hardest part of treatment,such a huge crash of rage and depression in a usually very calm person, she is a psychotherapist. Are the steroids nessessary?
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 9 years ago.
Steroid medications help to prevent inflammation and suppress the body's natural response to offensive medications, like chemotherapy.

For example, steroids will be given to patients prior to an offensive (one that will cause discomfort, or may be toxic to the kidney for example) medication to help "blunt" the effects of the medication on the body.

Chemotherapy, being toxic medications to the cancer cells, affects the normal cells in the body as well, and can produce a number of unpleasant side effects.    Usually in the treatment of breast cancer, it is done to prevent the body's reaction to the chemotherapy drugs (in some cancers, it can also help to treat the cancer).

If the steroids themselves are causing severe side effects, she should talk with her oncologist to see if they are truly necessary in the treatment protocol - for treatment of breast cancer, they may not be, though only your oncologist knows the chemotherapy protocol and why exactly the steroids are being prescribed. Some protocols will require very specific doses of medications and specific times, so please discuss this with your oncologist.
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