Sunday, October 06, 2013

Breast Cancer Research and Treatment: Something New

Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is among the most common cancers appearing in the females. Today, it is the second leading cause of death in females. It has been estimated that the chances of a woman dying of breast cancer are 1 in 36. 

Causes of breast cancer

Cause of breast cancer is still unclear. Mostly the factors that take part in the development of cancer are the woman’s lifestyle and habits.
Genetic mutations play a key role in the development of breast cancer. Studies have shown that the use of genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations continues and is going at a fast pace. Also, it has been noticed how common it is for gene variation to occur.
At some point it has been seen that environment plays a role in the cause of cancer. Obesity, diet, regular heavy alcohol, heavy radiations and estrogen rich pills may be the risk factors for breast cancer.

Symptoms of breast cancer

Breast cancer symptoms include a lump or an area of thickened tissue in the breast, change in size or shape or both, discharge from the nipple, dimpling of the breast skin, rash around the nipple or sunken nipple. The most common breast cancer symptom is a lump or thickened are or breast tissue. But, bear in mind, most of the lumps are not breast cancers.


Chemoprevention refers to the method which prevents or reduces the chances of breast cancer with the use of drugs, vitamins or other agents. Fenretinide, a retinoid, is being used to decrease the risk of breast cancer to occur. Retinoids are vitamin A related drugs. A small study has reported that Fenretinide reduces breast cancer risk as much as Tamoxifen.

New laboratory tests

Circulating tumour cells

It has been noticed that a part of tumour often breaks away from its original site and enters the blood circulation. Such products are known as cancer tumour markers. A sensitive test can indicate whether the cancer can reappear again to the patient or not. This test is important for the patients who are at a higher stage of cancer and their treatment is going well.

Scintimammography (molecular breast imaging)

It is a slightly radioactive tracer called technetium sestamibi. It is injected into a vein. The tracer attaches to breast cancer cells and special camera is able to detect it. But, this technique is still being studied and some radiologists believe that scintimammography is helpful while some do not.

Tomosynthesis (3-D mammography)

This technology is an extension of a digital mammogram.  The test is performed by making the breast compressed once and a machine takes many low-dose x-rays while moving over the breast. The images are combined to produce a 3-dimensional picture; however, it uses a lot for radiation.

Breast cancer treatment

Oncoplastic surgery

Breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy or partial mastectomy) is often performed for early-breast cancer stages. It depends on the size of tumour and, in some of the women; it can result in breasts of different sizes or shapes. If the tumour is larger, it may have to be removed as a whole. The recent advances offer a new technology or method called oncoplastic surgery where doctors combine the cancer and plastic surgery techniques. Oncoplastic surgery reshapes the breast at the time of the initial surgery, and sometimes the other breast may be operated as well to make them look symmetrical. This technique is new and many doctors are still not comfortable with it.

New chemotherapy drugs

New chemotherapy drugs has been developed that target cancers caused by BRCA mutations. This class of drugs used is PARP inhibitors and clinical trials have shown its positive effect.
Many other treatments are taking place such as target therapies. Different regimens are being used; however, maximum benefits can be achieved when the patient is cooperative and understanding. She makes is more effective than any procedure done or any drug used.

Wajiha Hassan

Keywords: Breast cancer research, Breast cancer symptoms, Breast cancer treatment, Oncoplastic surgery, Chemotherapy 

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