Newest Diagnostic and Medical Breakthroughs in Treating Breast Cancer
A breast cancer diagnosis is an unwelcomed news to a patient particularly with their families. Having someone in the family with breast cancer is a stressful and frightening experience. If you are in this situation, you know how painful it is to go through this process. The emotional pain is unimaginable considering the unpredictable behavior of aggressive cancer cells. More so, seeing your love one battle with cancer is something that you wish you have never seen in your life.
You may have a lot of questions, as to how your loved one will survive the situation. Can your loved one manage the side effects of chemotherapy, radiation and other side effects from the drugs? Will you still hold into your belief that things will be better at the end? Are you still hoping that the latest breakthroughs in breast cancer treatment will help save your loved one’s life?
The questions may seem endless, but you should never lose sight of the light. If there’s any good news in this unfortunate event - there are lots of advances in breast cancer treatment that you and your love one can look into.
Battling with Cancer: Understanding the Prevalence of Breast Cancers?
Breast Cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers in women worldwide. Each year, around 1.7 million new cases are reported and roughly 521,900 deaths were recorded in 2012, alone. According to CDC, in 2013, there were 230,815 women and 2,109 men reported to have breast cancer in US.
Thanks to the dramatic advances in the diagnostic modalities, screening methods and breakthroughs in the treatment, now, there is an increase in survival rate among women suffering from this disease. For the past decade or so, we have seen a tremendous advancement in the fields of research particularly in the pharmaceutical arena. The advances in pharmacology and molecular biology have contributed for a better understanding of breast cancer treatment. Here are some of the highlights:
What are the Advancements in Breast Cancer Diagnosis?
Aside from the established and conventional breast cancer diagnostic tools such as:
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Breast Biopsy
There are newer diagnostic modalities that are being used that can rapidly detect early stages of the development of tumor cells, these include:
Molecular Breast Imaging (MBI)
This diagnostic tool uses radioactive tracer that lights the cancer tissues in the breast. It is visualized through the use of nuclear medicine scanner. It uses Tc-99m Sestamibi which is used for breast cancer imaging to detect smaller breast tumors with very high specificity.
Her-2/neu Detection Assay
- Immunohistochemistry is diagnostic modality that utilizes antibodies to detect protein expression. IHC is widely used in detecting tissue markers that are associated with specific cancers.
- FISH is another diagnostic technique used to examine specific chromosomal regions or chromosomes to detect hybridized chromosome materials that may cause the onset of breast cancer.
Serum based tumor biomarkers such as CEA, CA 27-29 and CA 15-3 are recommended by the American Society of Clinical Oncology for detection of aggressive or metastatic tumor cells although, they are not helpful in detecting early stages of breast cancer.
New Markers Under Research
Currently, there is ongoing research on the advanced screening and diagnostic modalities for breast cancer. These potentially new markers include the use of:
- Cancer cells
- DNA and RNA
- Genomic and proteomics
Mammoglobin is a protein in mammary tissue that can be detected through serum. It is believed that this protein can be an effective tool in detecting early stage of breast cancer because it is highly expressed in the early stages of the disease.
Cancer cells such as Endothelial circulating cells and Endothelial precursor cells or EPCs play an important role in tumor growth. Researchers believe that these cancer cells are important biochemical markers in screening breast cancer and determining candidates for antiangiogenic treatment.
DNA and RNA
Death of cancer tissue may lead to increase levels of DNA and RNA in the patient’s blood by almost 50 fold. Thus, DNA and RNA detection in the blood is a promising screening and diagnostic modality for breast cancer.
Presence of autoantibody in the blood may reflect the body’s immune response against cancer cells. Thus, autoantibodies may help detect tumor-associated genes that will aid in the early screening and diagnosis of breast cancer.
Genomic and Proteomics
The genomic studies can effectively predict the prognosis or outcome of breast cancer patients. Blood-based proteomics are used to identify potential biomarkers that will help in better understanding of the disease.
What is the Newer Approach in Treating Breast Cancer?
The conventional treatment for breast cancer includes:
- Radiation Therapy
- Targeted Therapy
- Endocrine or Hormonal Therapy
The trending treatment for localized breast cancer is breast conservation surgery which is preceded by a neoadjuvant therapy to shrink cancer cells. The surgery is then followed by adjuvant therapy to minimize the spread of cancer cells in other organs and to ensure full recovery of the patient.
But there are also other newer approaches that are being studied for a rapid treatment of breast cancer, these are:
- Lipid-based drug carriers
- Nucleic Acid Technologies
The use of nanomedicines aims to improve the distribution and circulation of entrapped chemotherapeutic drugs. For the past years, the advances in nanotechnology has paved way to a safe and more effective treatment strategy for breast cancer compared to conventional approaches.
Lipid Based Drugs
The FDA approved lipid based drugs provide a controllable drug carrier system for a more improved cancer treatment.
Nucleic Acid Technologies
Nucleic Acid Technologies is a promising new treatment to manipulate any gene in the human genome. This may provide new treatment modality for a personalized treatment of breast cancer and other types of diseases.
This technology uses biological cellular carriers that aim to kill metastatic tumor cells. It may also be used to deliver a therapeutic agent to control the spread of aggressive tumors.
Why Early Screening Is Important for Breast Cancer Patients?
Early detection of breast cancer is very important. At an early stage, the tumor may still be localized, so conventional treatment may still be effective. Thus, regular breast examination and testing is crucial, especially for those who have/had a family member already diagnosed with the disease.
If you want to go through an early screening, there are a number of preventive tests you can take on a regular basis
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