Humanity Is Making Progress In Breast Cancer Treatment

Jenny Decker RN's picture
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In just a few short years, advances in research, prevention, and treatment of breast cancer have literally revolutionized the war in the fight to save lives. Breast cancer will be diagnosed this year in over 190,000 women, writes CNN, however, with the gigantic steps that have been taken to improve the treatment, these women can rejoice that we are winning the war on breast cancer. Many of these women will be cancer survivors in the near future.

There are numerous ways that we are winning the war on breast cancer. Some of these battles have been long in coming, but they are definitely worth the results. We know so much more today than we ever have known. It is interesting to note that researchers and doctors alike now recognize that breast cancer is actually several diseases. Each tumor is unique. Some of the types of breast cancer include luminal A and B, HER2 type, and triple negative. With this knowledge in hand, half the battle is won because now physicians are able to target the specific type of tumor more effectively.

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Treatment of breast cancer is also different for each person with this disease. For example, some women have cancers that respond well to hormonal therapies, such as tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors. In 2004, the Oncotype DX test became available for women to be tested to see if their type of breast cancer would respond to the hormonal therapy. If a woman can be identified as such, then the nasty side effects of chemotherapy can be avoided, giving the woman a much better quality of life. This is indeed a part of the war on breast cancer that has been won.

Surgery is also less traumatic. In the past, women would undergo a radical mastectomy, along with the removal of lymph nodes under the arms. The removal of these lymph nodes would result in lymphedema. Now, the common option is lumpectomy, with recovery much faster and the lymph nodes are left in place if they are still healthy. Reconstruction of the breast is often done at the same time as the initial surgery. Reconstruction also looks better, too. Women should discuss this option with their physicians when contemplating surgery. Breast cancer often leaves a woman with one breast and the promise of reconstruction after treatment has been completed.

With the advent of more advanced surgeries and the possibility of not having to have chemotherapy, there are fewer complications. Risk can also be decreased with more knowledge about how breast cancer acts. Controlling weight and eating a nutritious diet lowers the risk of breast cancer. Another risk that is associated with breast cancer is drinking, even moderate drinking. Experts encourage all women to decrease drinking in order to lower breast cancer risk, writes WebMD. Exercise is also highly encouraged.

Research is getting fired up, too. As questions are answered in regards to breast cancer, new ones appear. Research into breast cancer has also given us ammunition to fight it. Doing monthly breast exams and getting regular mammograms are important for early detection of breast cancer, which we now know is part of the most effective treatment. The war is definitely on our side. We are winning the war against breast cancer.

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