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    Breast Cancer - The Road Ahead

    The end of the 1990s was a boom time for discoveries in breast cancer research. New therapies were discovered and discarded at a confusing rate. Now that we're into the 21st century, where are we headed and what can we expect?

    Treatment in the past consisted of a diagnosis of cancer and surgical removal of the offending cells followed by a regimen of radiation and chemotherapy. Research is changing both the diagnosis and the treatment.

    Diagnosis is more important than ever to the treatment of breast cancer. Women are getting the message that early detection is the best guarantee of survival. Breast self examination and routine mammograms are a regular part of more women's lives. The techniques used for diagnosis are getting more sophisticated than ever. Steroscopic imaging allows for a better look at the breast tissue than either mammography or sonograms are able to provide.

    Once a lump or irregular tissue is found, the next step is biopsy. New biopsy trends are improving the results and making the process a little more pleasant for the patient. Needle biopsies and sentinel node mapping are modern techniques for naming the growth and deciding on relevant treatments.

    The latest treatments stem from the emerging knowledge of the progression of this disease including genetic testing for breast cancer. The more scientists discover about what makes a cell go haywire, the better they are at finding ways to change the behavior, or even prevent it.

    Treatments are being tailored to specific types of breast cancer.  Breast cancer now is seen as estrogen receptor positive or negative. Some overexpress HER-2/nue and MRP others do not. Each is unique and needs a drug that targets that specific cancer. This improves the success of the treatment. The targeting of specific types of cells also means less toxic side effects for patients undergoing chemotherapy

    There is even some talk of vaccines, although the research is in the animal testing stage at this point.

    The future looks good for those with a diagnosis of breast cancer . The arsenal of new drugs is growing due to the focus on research and funding for research that emerged during the 1990s. Independent foundations founded by friends and relatives of breast cancer victims are an important part of this development. All of those runs, walks and bicycle rides and stamps are translating into new hope for everyone affected by this disease.

    Last updated April 22, 2017

     

     

     

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