This year, around 41,760 women in the US will die from breast cancer, a disease which will affect one in eight American women during her lifetime.
But, breast cancer news isn’t all negative. Death rates have been decreasing since 1989, and are now 40 percent below their peak.
These decreases are due to increased awareness, earlier detection, and improved screening methods. But it is breast cancer research and treatment advances that have had the biggest impact.
And, researchers are still discovering vital new breakthroughs every day. Read on to find out all about the latest breast cancer news.
- New Breast Cancer Drug Boosts Survival Rates in Younger Women
Research into a new form of drug shows that it drastically improves the survival rates of younger women with estrogen receptor-positive (ER) breast cancers, the most common form of the disease.
ER-positive cancers respond well to breast cancer treatment. But, by adding a cell-cycle inhibitor ribociclib, researchers boosted survival rates to 70 percent after 3.5 years. And, as this latest breast cancer news reports, the mortality rate was 29 percent less for patients who took the drug than those who took the placebo.
The drug works by inhibiting the enzymes that promote cancer cells. Advances in targeted breast cancer research and treatment like this are very promising. This is because they mean a reduced reliance on traditional, and far more toxic, chemotherapy.
- Research into Using Scintimammography for More Precise Detection
Scintimammography involves injecting a tracer (a drug with a slight radioactive charge) into a vein. The tracer attaches itself to breast cancer cells and a special camera is then able to detect it.
Doctors believe this new technique can help investigate suspicious areas found in regular mammograms, which you can read more about it here. Ongoing research aims to improve the technology and test its use in specific situations. These include examining the dense breasts of younger women.
- New Therapies to Prevent Recurrent ER-Positive Breast Cancer
ER-positive breast cancer is the most common form. But, it’s also the easiest type of breast cancer to treat.
That said, the challenge with ER-positive breast cancer, is that it can come back after curative treatment. And recurrent forms of this cancer are less likely to respond to the same therapy used the first time.
In recent years CDK 4/6 inhibitors have improved the survival rates in women with metastatic ER-positive breast cancers. These drugs don’t work for all patients and may stop working after initial success. But researchers are investigating new combination approaches, drug designs, and CDK therapies.
- Findings Show Greater Breast Cancer Risk from HRT
New research into HRT shows that it increases the risk of breast cancer by more than double what was once thought.
This breast cancer research confirms that HRT is a direct cause of breast cancer. And, the study also shows that the risk does not disappear as soon as women stop taking it.
This research is a clear cause for concern for the millions of women taking HRT around the world. But any findings that highlight breast cancer risks also help fuel our understanding of the disease.
- HER2-Positive Breast Cancer Research and Treatment Advances
For many years, doctors and researchers considered breast cancers driven by the HER2 oncogene as lethal.
Since then, the discovery of trastuzumab has revolutionized treatment for HER2-positive breast cancers. Although, not all patients receive the same benefit.
Following these breast cancer treatment advances, researchers have found other HER2-targeting agents. Combination approaches using dual HER2 agents and chemotherapy are now common.
Despite this, doctors don’t know which patients need aggressive breast cancer treatment and which don’t. This is because there is no genomic test for guiding treatment decisions with HER-2 positive breast cancer.
These aggressive treatments include dual-targeted therapy and added chemo. And both of these involve added toxicity and extra costs.
But new neoadjuvant therapy provides a way to gauge the aggressiveness of HER2-positive breast cancer. How well the patient’s tumor responds to neoadjuvant therapy then determines whether they need a more aggressive treatment or not.
There are also new drug designs, such as ado-trastuzumab emtansine (T-DM1). These, in combination with a more personalized approach, make HER-2 targeted therapy even more effective.
- Potential New Drugs for Triple-Negative Breast Cancers
Triple-negative breast cancers are those which lack estrogen, progesterone, and HER2 receptors. Doctors can’t treat these cancers with hormone therapy or targeted therapy. As such, chemotherapy is the only option.
But, in recent years, researchers have identified new potential targets for drug therapies. Researchers are now studying drugs based on these targets. These include immunotherapy and kinase inhibitors, either alone, or in combination with chemo.
- Guidelines Encourage More Breast Cancer Gene Tests
New health guidelines claim that more women should have gene testing for hereditary breast cancer. This is especially important if they are cancer survivors.
Mutations in genes called BRCA1 and BRCA2 passed through families can increase the chance of breast and other cancers. While these mutations aren’t common, specialists say that gene testing is a key way to help more women identify their breast cancer risk.
The guidelines urge more doctors to ask women about relatives with BRCA-related cancers. And, if necessary, to refer those who may need a gene test to a genetic counselor.
Breast Cancer News and Breakthroughs
Our understanding of breast cancer is advancing every day.
As a result, researchers are helping millions of women win the fight against breast cancer. And that’s the kind of breast cancer news we love hearing.
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