Understanding Breast Cancer – The Latest Advancements

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 9,021
    Dr. Rebecca Zuurbier, M.D. and Dr. Jacqueline Eghrari – Sabet, MD discuss the latest advancements in breast cancer treatment.

    Jacqueline Eghrari-Sabet: As far as what's on uprising in breast cancer detection, diagnosis and treatment, there are promising strives being made particularly in breast imaging. One are of specific interest is the use of something called Tomosynthesis. Now that we have started to move toward digital imaging in the breast away from film screen, we can use the computerized images to help make different slices of the breast, much like we did with CAT scan of the body, where we made bread loaf images of the breast. We can also make bread loaf slices of the breast and instead of looking as we do now at breast structure superimposed, we can separate the structures. So, breast Tomosynthesis stands a reasonable chance of being introduced within the next five years.

    Surgeons are working toward making their breast surgeries more cosmetically appealing as well as effective and so they are looking at ways to save the skin and nipple, it is called nipple sparing procedures or skin sparing mastectomies. Radiation therapists are looking at ways to compress the amount of radiation into a smaller amount of time. We are also looking at ways to deliver breast radiation directly to the tumor bed, that's called Brachytherapy. Conventional treatment is called External Beam Therapy, but Brachytherapy is being explored as an alternative or as an adjunct to External Beam Therapy. Finally, Chemotherapy regimens are also getting more targeted, we are able to see breast cancer no longer just at the microscopic level but at the electron microscopic level. So, we can tailor our chemotherapy treatments more specifically to the tumor. One example now is something called a HER2-Neu Positive tumor. It's a feature of a cancer cell that's a very specific and even though it tends to pertain to more aggressive breast cancer, it also also has a very specific treatment called, Herceptin. So, if we can do that with other cancer tumor cells, find a drug specific to that tumor. We are going to make greater strives in our fight against breast cancer.

    It's important to remember, breast cancer is a disease that we don't know necessarily what causes it all the time and we don't really have a great way of preventing it. To have the best outcome you and your doctor should work together. For most women this means annual mammograms and regular breast physical examination. But again speak with your health care provider to develop a plan so we can find this disease as early as possible.