One in eight women will battle with breast cancer at some point in their life. This number seems high, and it is. Awareness has spread over the past decade, but the treatment has not come nearly as far. Most importantly the prevention of this disease has not been in the spotlight, prevention needs to be the emphasis over the next decade to lower breast cancer rates. The top breast cancer breakthroughs of 2013 are extremely important and will become increasingly important over the coming years, changing the way we approach breast cancer treatment and prevention.
Breast Cancer Breakthroughs of 2013
The top breast cancer breakthroughs of 2013 help improve treatment, prevention and quality of life for patients suffering from breast cancer. Ask your doctor about these new preventative measures and possible treatments, exploring the best course of action for your specific situation.
8. Exercise to Fight Breast Cancer
Everyone knows that working out is good for your health, nothing extreme, just regular activity that gets your heart pumping. New research from the University of Minnesota gives some insight into why exercise is so paramount to prevent breast cancer.
Estrogen is a hormone that is often responsible for fueling the progression of breast cancer. Exercise was found to change the way the body handles estrogen, significantly reducing the chances of developing breast cancer.
A few hours of physical activity per week can reduce your chances of developing breast cancer by 30 to 40 percent, this is the same as one of the leading breast cancer prevention drugs Tamoxifen. Keep your weight in check and get active and you can cut your risk of breast cancer in half.
7. Fighting Breast Cancer with Nutrition
There is an aggressive form of breast cancer that affects about 20 percent of breast cancer sufferers. This estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer is not fueled by hormones, affecting younger women most often.
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health recently found the link between vegetable consumption and this estrogen receptor-negative (ER-Negative) breast cancer.
Another study found that women with a high level of Carotenoids in their blood (a micronutrient found in fruits and vegetables) had a lower risk of ER-Negative breast cancer. Berries were found to be among the most beneficial, reducing the number of ER-Positive tumors as well, the form of breast cancer that affects about 70% of breast cancer sufferers. Eating a cup of berries every day can significantly reduce your chances of developing breast cancer.
6. New Pharmaceutical Option for At-Risk Women
The American Society of Clinical Oncology have recommended that doctors begin offering the latest breast cancer preventative drug Exemestane. For women who are at an increased risk of the disease due to family history. A clinical study found that Exemestane reduced the risk of ER-Positive breast cancer by up to 73%.
Tamoxifen and Raloxifene are other common preventative drugs that are administered to at risk women to reduce their chances of developing breast cancer. Exemestane has become a very important addition to this list, almost twice as effective as Tamoxifen.
5. Dense Breasts Matter
Karla Kerlikowske, MD and Professor at the University of California, San Francisco says “Having very dense breasts increases your breast cancer risk at least twofold.”
Dense tissue can be a problem when detecting abnormalities during a mammogram, also leaving you at an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Dense tissue is believed to pack more of the cells that could promote cancer growth. Also making it harder to see tumors on a mammogram. This is part of the reason that mammograms don’t work well on younger women, because they often have denser breast tissue than older women.
If you have dense tissue ask your doctor about a digital mammogram, this makes it much easier to detect abnormalities than the typical analog mammography.
Another new tool to detect breast cancer is called Digital Breast Tomosynthesis. A 3-D version of the digital mammography tools. It produces an even more complete image which makes it much easier to detect tumors and abnormalities. Particularly effective for women who have dense breast tissue. It is not covered by insurance as of yet, but John Huff, MD, thinks that this will change within the next few years when it is more widely available.
4. Pinpointed Radiation to Treat Breast Cancer
About two thirds of breast cancer patients are women with small ER-Positive tumors. Studies have shown that by undergoing one high dose radiation treatment during a lumpectomy is about as effective as 6 weeks of postsurgical radiation.
The real advantage of this treatment is there is less risk of harming healthy heart and lung tissues. This is due to the radiation being delivered in a 1 centimeter area. Making it much easier to target surrounding tissue of the lumpectomy cavity, not targeting the entire breast as was often the case.
Only about 40 medical centers offer this intraoperative radiation therapy, the number of medical centers to offer this is thought to increase over the coming years though.
3. Cutting Down on Surgeries
The FDA approved the use of a device called the MarginProbe last year. It is a device used by surgeons to determine how dense the tissue is surrounding a tumor. Because cancerous tissue tends to be harder, this is due to the increased amount of collagen it contains. This MarginProbe allows surgeons to remove the problem tissue as they remove the tumor, preventing future surgeries by removing the additional tissue all at once. Breast surgeon at the Center for Breast Care in Burbank, California Deanna J. Attai, MD says “It’s Incredible.” It most certainly is, reducing the amount of invasive surgeries is extremely beneficial, cutting down the costs associated with this surgery making it more accessible for those who need it.
2. Smart Chemotherapy
Kadcyla is a very exciting new drug for cancer care. It is considered a smart chemo option because it deliver the chemo straight to the cancerous cells, sparing the healthy cells in the surrounding area.
Designed for women with Metastatic HER2-Positive breast cancer who have pursued traditional chemotherapy medications. Kadcyla decreases the chemo related side effects like rashes or diarrhea. This breakthrough breast cancer treatment has been found to improve progression free survival by up to 18 months in women with advanced ER-Positive and HER2-Negative cancers compared to the standard chemotherapy treatments alone.
1. Chemo Minus Hair Loss
When talking about the treatments and preventative measures, it is easy to overlook the effects of the quality of life for breast cancer patients. One major side effect of chemotherapy is hair loss, often a deciding factor for women who are choosing a treatment method.
The FDA has recently approved a phase 2 pivotal trial for something called the DigniCap. It is a cap worn during chemo treatments that can reduce the amount of toxins delivered to the hair follicles. Circulating a coolant through the inner layer of the cap in order to minimize the radiation damage to the hair follicle and significantly reducing the amount of hair lost because of these treatments.
Treatment and prevention are first and foremost when dealing with breast cancer, reducing the risk of developing this cancer and improving the treatment methods. When we think of improving the treatment methods for breast cancer it is important to factor in the quality of life for the patients. Reducing the side effects of traditional breast cancer treatments and finding new treatments with less severe side effects.