Survival rates of breast cancer sufferers are now up to 50 percent and two-thirds of all women survive cancer for at least 20 years. The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota is now working on predicting which types of lumps should be of more concern. After following almost 10,000 women with benign lumps, researchers found that those with cells that looked different from normal cells are four to five times more likely to develop breast cancer. There are some other factors that need to be taken into consideration as well, such as age and a family history of cancer. Due to recent discoveries, doctors can now more accurately determine whose a strong candidate for additional screenings or other preventive measures.
In 1998, a drug, tamoxifen, was created and it was said to decrease the risk of breast cancer by 50 percent. The side effects of hot flashes and blood clots were not appealing and now another drug raloxifene is just as effective and has fewer side effects. As for cancer recurrences, chemotherapy or radiation therapy is a good alternative to prescription drugs. There is also another drug, letrozole, that lowered the risk of recurrences by 19 percent (than those who took tamoxifen). For women that have HER2-positive tumors, the drug Herceptin lowered the risk by 52 percent. There is also the yet to be approved “lapatinib” which is a pill that shuts down the activity of the HER2 protein.
About 22 percent of breast cancers are ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). That means that malignant cells are confined to the milk ducts. The three most common treatments are lumpectomy, radiation, and mastectomy. A University of Michigan study has shown that lumpectomy and radiation together are very good options. A study at the University of Minnesota showed that those who did not have radiation had more than twice the risk.
The treatments for breast cancer are no longer synonymous with nausea and fatigue because new medications are faster and more bearable. Women that have early stages of cancer can opt for partial breast irradiations (PBI). PBI is given over the course of 5 days and is targeted so less healthy tissue is effective. It provides a more intense radiation dosage with milder side effects. Chemotherapy is a good treatment. It is a dose-dense chemotherapy that spans out to every two weeks as opposed to every three weeks so it's over faster. There is an accelerated chemotherapy which is oral chemotherapy rather than go to the hospital on a consistent basis, patients can take capecitabine pills every 12 hours for two weeks, one week off, and the cycle continues for 3 months.
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