As many of you know, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
. But fortunately for those who have been diagnosed with this terrible disease, science doesn't wait! Researchers have breast cancer on the mind all year long
. In fact, some good news has recently come in the form of new, refined breast cancer treatments.
While treatments for breast cancer patients have become more and more advanced over the last few years, a promising new technique could have the potential to stop the cancer in its tracks without overdoing chemotherapy
. This technique is called genetic profiling
, and it is enabling doctors to build a more personalized treatment that is specifically tailored to match a patient's individual breast cancer cell type, rate of growth, cancerous protein makeup and more.
There are now several tests available to doctors that aid in figuring out exactly what biological or genetic factors are the driving force behind different types of breast cancer. New therapies allow for focused attacks to target those specific factors, which in turn retards the growth of more cancerous cells and allows the chemotherapy to destroy the cancer faster than it can regenerate. Treatment Options
Five different treatment options
are available to women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. These are chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, surgery and targeted therapy; and it is common to use multiple treatments in conjunction. While the same treatments are still currently available, doctors are working to improve and hone each option in order to better target cancer cells.
One of the new treatments available is called Oncotype DX
. This particular therapy helps women who most likely benefit from traditional hormonal therapy because estrogen or other female hormones are compelling the cancerous cells to grow. Oncotype DX inspects and analyzes the genetic makeup of different breast cancer cells in order to determine if the cells will return even after hormone therapy. If this results show that the likelihood of developing cancer again is indeed high, it will prompt doctors to recommend additional hormone therapy as well as chemotherapy.
Another new treatment relies on a drug called trastuzumab
to block the growth brought on by a growth gene in the cancer cell, slowing its regeneration and making it more susceptible to chemotherapy. Doctors have discovered that about one fourth of all breast cancer patients have cancer cells that contain mutated growth genes which generate much more protein than usual, causing very rapid, uncontrollable growth in tumors and cancerous cells. This drug also fights the cancer's ability to grow resistant to chemotherapy because it will be too weak.
These special tests are but a few of the growing number of personalized treatments for breast cancer patients. Genetic profiling and more specific attacks on cancer cells could prevent many women with early breast cancer from having to undergo chemotherapy, which they may not need at all if treatments are done early enough. On the other hand, the same profiling will indicate whether or not a patient requires stronger measures immediately to combat the cancer, and if they will benefit from hormone therapy, surgery, or other procedures and treatments.