Over 40,000 women still lose their battle with breast cancer every year. It is the second most common cancer that women in the United States are diagnosed with, skin cancer being the first. However, with the help of breakthroughs in modern medicine and early detection of the disease, there are over two million survivors of breast cancer living in the United States today. A generation ago, 62 percent of women survived ten years after an initial diagnosis of breast cancer. An estimated 84 percent of women today are surviving due to breakthroughs in breast cancer.
Laurie Glimcher, MD, dean of Weill Cornell Medical College recently came forward with some findings that could be groundbreaking for those with breast cancer. It is difficult to figure out how to stop cancer cells from spreading, because they mutate in random ways that are not predictable to doctors. Glimcher and her team have discovered a protein in the body that controls a genetic pathway that affects the speed of spreading and growth of tumors. While the pathway is also responsible for fighting off dangerous viruses, and is therefore extremely helpful and important, the medical team discovered that it is also responsible for helping tumors survive. The discovery of this protein is huge news in the medical field as it will allow medical researchers to try to find ways to put a stop to it, which can possibly cause the cancer cells and tumors to destruct on their own.
Wendy Chen, MD, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School has come forward with additional possible breakthroughs in fighting breast cancer. In recent study, Chen and her team discovered that taking aspirin may actually help fight this disease. The results of the study showed that women in the first three stages of breast cancer who took aspirin two to five times during the week were actually a whopping 71 percent less likely to lose their battle with the disease in comparison to those who were not on an aspirin regimen.
Early detection has always played a key role in battling breast cancer. Women are urged to perform a self-breast exam monthly in order to discover any abnormalities or lumps. Women should also look for any changes in the breast tissue or skin. Patrician Steeg, PHD, and her team have discovered that a drug known as temozolomide, an oral chemotherapy drug that is used to treat brain cancers was able to stop cancer cells from reaching the brain in certain cases. A clinical study is now being planned for the use of temozolomide in breast cancer patients. This is another in a series of breakthroughs in breast cancer that could help improve patient’s lives, and very possibly enable them to live longer.
While it is true that family history and older age put women at a higher risk to develop breast cancer, the fact is that any woman regardless of race, age and family history can develop the disease. Statistics show that one in eight women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lifetime. Breakthroughs in breast cancer are giving patients some much needed hope. It is imperative that women perform regular self-breast exams as well as scheduling annual mammograms. Early detection can help save lives.
By: Rebecca Savastio