Breast cancer treatments are changing around the globe, as more scientists and doctors are finding that not all cancers may benefit from the typical course of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Time magazine reports that more personalized and customized breast cancer treatments are becoming the norm among oncologists today.
For the earliest stages of breast cancer such as ductal carcinoma in situ, which is stage 0 and is found in the ducts of women’s breasts, there may not even be a need for consistent breast cancer treatment since forms of this type of anomaly could very well never spread, according to the Times. Consistent, regular screening to see if and when the disease spreads may be a more suitable choice for some patients. It will truly be dependent on the mutual decision between the patient and her or his oncologist.
For many years, breast cancer screening has been focused on general mammograms beginning at age 40 and possibly younger for women who have a family history of the disease. However, in more recent years, there has been some controversy over when the most apt time to begin breast cancer screening is, with some public health agencies pushing to begin the process in later years.
Dr. Laura Esserman, a breast-cancer expert at the University of California, San Francisco, is looking to research in a new study how to personalize the age at which a woman should begin screening for the disease.
Additionally, women around the globe will need to learn more about the different risk factors that could lead to the disease including genetic factors and things that could be changed such as pursuing a healthy lifestyle. The news source outlines how what you eat, how much you sleep, the amount of exercise you take part in, and genetic changes due to smoking or radiation exposure could all influence your breast cancer risk.
Plenty of research completed over the decades shows that women could reduce their risk of breast cancer by keeping to a healthy weight, getting regular exercise, and consuming a plant-based diet. Obesity in general has been tied to various cancers, heart disease, and diabetes. Also, by keeping your alcohol intake low and avoiding smoking, breast cancer risk can be lowered.
Estrogen therapy during menopause is another thing to avoid, which researchers found out years ago could increase the likelihood of breast cancer. Other research shows that BPA and other chemicals found in plastics and household products could increase breast cancer rates.
Preventing breast cancer should go a long way toward reducing these rates. However, genetic factors still clearly play a role in the disease and researchers are looking for new ways to target breast cancer and personalize breast cancer treatments. This may include reducing the use of more high-intensity treatments, but some women may not be completely comfortable with that.
Dr. Mehra Golshan, a cancer surgeon at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, told the news source that many breast cancer patients worry and wonder “How do I know my cancer isn’t going to be the one that spreads?”
New research studies called the COMET, however, will test whether breast cancer surgery with or without radiation will show similar results or whether one will come out on top.
“Right now most women are still making the choice to do what’s aggressive, but I know these people are out there who want an alternative. So it will be interesting to see how many women participate in the study,” Dr. Shelley Hwang, chief of breast surgery at Duke University, told the source.
The future will show where breast cancer treatments end up and how personalized treatments impact the overall health and outcomes of cancer patients. Currently, customized treatments are moving the tide away from the more aggressive radiation and chemo-therapies of the 20th century.