Breast cancer continues to be a disease that instills fear in the heart of women everywhere. Approximately 250,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer on an annual basis. This makes it one of the most common types of cancer to affect Americans. Breast cancer can affect men as well, but it is most common in women of child-bearing years or older. Rarely it can also be diagnosed in young women. Early diagnosis and effective treatment options continue to be a concern for researchers studying breast cancer. Some advancements have recently been made in both areas that look promising for future generations of breast cancer patients.
Modern Advances in Diagnosing Breast Cancer
Much focus has been put in recent years on the development of effective ways to reduce the number of false positives received during the diagnosis process. False positives refer to a situation where a woman is informed that she has breast cancer, but she actually does not. False positives are fairly common and can lead to a great deal of distress for the patient. A new diagnosis method referred to as molecular breast imaging may be the answer to reducing the number of false positives associated with breast cancer diagnosis.
Molecular breast imaging was first approved by the FDA in 1999. However, it was mainly used in addition to standard mammography in order to tell the difference between scar tissue and new tumors in breast cancer survivors. It is now being considered as a mainstream method for better diagnosing breast cancer in the first place. Molecular breast imaging won’t necessarily take the place of mammography and ultrasound. However, it can provide a much clearer picture of what is going on inside a woman’s breast tissue. During molecular breast imaging, the patient is injected with a radioactive substance that will be absorbed by any tumors she may have. This will allow the tumors to be properly visualized on the subsequent imaging films taken.
What about the concern of exposure to radioactive materials? Standard mammography also exposes women to radiation. In fact, the amount of radiation exposure is actually less in molecular breast imaging than it is in digital mammography techniques. While proper protocol must be followed during testing procedures, molecular breast imaging is a safe way to get a better understanding of exactly what is going on within the breast tissue.
Modern Advances in Treating Breast Cancer
Aside from better techniques to accurately diagnose breast cancer, research is always ongoing in terms of finding more effective treatment methods as well. Immunotherapy is currently one of the most exciting areas being explored regarding targeted treatments for breast cancer patients.
Immunotherapy involves the act of harnessing the bodies natural immune system and optimizing it to where it is capable of fighting the cancer itself. Monoclonal antibodies are lab manufactured proteins sometimes used in immunotherapy treatments. These proteins bind to other substances that are naturally existing in the body. They can then be used to deliver medication and other drug therapies directly to the tumor, effectively killing off the cancer without causing as much harm to surrounding healthy tissues. More research is needed to determine which patients will get the most benefit out of treatments such as immunotherapy, allowing it to become a mainstream method used in the fight against breast cancer.
Cancer Treatment Centers of America
Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) was initially created by Richard J Stephenson in 1988. When Mr. Stephenson’s own mother was battling cancer, he became very familiar with the limitations of existing diagnosis and treatment methods. When his mother passed away from her cancer, Richard decided to create a hospital solely dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of all types of cancer.
In honor of his mother’s memory, Richard Stephenson created Cancer Treatment Centers of America to be a holistic center that treats the entire person rather than just the disease that person has. CTCA and Mr. Stephenson believe that treating the whole person in a spirit of compassion, support, and understanding can promote the best healing of all. Utilizing cancer diagnosis and treatment techniques that remain on the cutting-edge of what current science has to offer cancer patients, CTCA continues to be on the forefront of cancer care and treatment.
**Update** 9.22.17 For more information follow Cancer Treatment Centers of America on Twitter @CancerCenter