Some years ago, if someone you knew was diagnosed with breast cancer you likely had no words to soothe them. At best, you sent a friendship or loving cards along with sympathy gifts such as a plant or flowers. Back then a breast cancer diagnosis often meant that following an aggressive course of treatment your survival chances were not very good.
However, women organized to a degree seldom seen in combating disease. Numerous organizations and foundations started or shifted their focus to the early diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month – an event that occurred each October for the past 25 years under the auspices of the American Cancer Association. This event has been very helpful towards women doing self-examinations and seeing professionals if they feel anything out of the ordinary. Early diagnosis is the single most important factor in a good result from treatment.
This year, there is much good news to learn about breast cancer. Four top stories that you may not have heard yet follow.
About Double Mastectomy
Recently, Angelina Jolie made news when she revealed that she had a double mastectomy performed on her. She was only 38 years old when this occurred. Jolie had unusual reasons for making her decision. According to genetic studies that she had done, she was extremely high risk for developing breast cancer.
According to the latest scientific research, patients were tracked who developed early-stage breast cancer for four years following a procedure — lumpectomy, mastectomy, and double mastectomy — found that many women who had a double mastectomy did not need it and had a very low risk of developing cancer in their healthy breast. Women with a genetic pre-disposition, such as Angelina Jolie do better taking the offensive position of having both breasts removed before breast cancer develops. Without a strong family history of breast cancer or testing positive for mutations in the BRCA1 Or BRCA2 gene most likely does not need to remove their healthy breast. This decision should follow a thorough discussion with your health care provider.
In the past, physicians prescribed Tamoxifen, an estrogen-blocking drug, for up to five years for women who were treated for breast cancer. The drug, scientists believed, wards off new malignancies in the breast.
Research now shows that by continuing Tamoxifen treatment for 10 years significantly reduced risk of the return of breast cancer and death. These benefits apply mostly to women who started Tamoxifen before menopause began as post-menopausal women are treated with a different class of medications. Additional research is needed to discover how a ten-year course of treatment would affect post-menopausal women.
Use of Mastectomy Can be Reduced
Most women believe that even early stage breast cancer is best treated by mastectomy. This belief contradicts research that concluded that lumpectomy followed by radiation therapy has the best outcomes. A study of 112,000 patients diagnosed with Stage 1 or Stage 2 breast cancer followed patients for an average time of 9.2 years. The conclusion was that women who a lumpectomy followed by radiation therapy had survival as good or better than women who had a mastectomy.
Targeted Breast Cancer Therapies Saves Lives
Through the 1970s, women had few choices in which breast treatment protocol they followed. Generally, all patients had a radical mastectomy and radiation therapy along with hormone therapy.
Today, medical advances using DNA-based test give physicians the ability to give patients customized treatment based on tumor biology. Tumor biology helps determine the likelihood of a particular treatment’s success as well as the risk for the patient to have a recurrence. By using these modern techniques, thousands of women may avoid unneeded and dangerous chemotherapy.
About the Author: Martin Carpenter
Martin is a paralegal focusing in the medical field.
To learn more about resqme, Inc.’s work with breast cancer, please visit: www.resqme.com/pink