Cancer research has led to real progress in the prevention, detection, and treatment of breast cancer. Continuing research offers hope that in the future even more women with breast cancer will be treated successfully.
Doctors all over the country are conducting many types of clinical trials (research studies in which people volunteer to take part). Clinical trials are designed to find out whether new approaches are safe and effective.
Even if the people in a trial do not benefit directly, they may still make an important contribution by helping doctors learn more about breast cancer and how to control it. Although clinical trials may pose some risks, doctors do all they can to protect their patients.
Doctors are trying to find better ways to care for women with breast cancer. They are studying many types of treatment and their combinations:
- Radiation therapy: In women with early breast cancer who have had a lumpectomy, doctors are comparing the effectiveness of standard radiation therapy aimed at the whole breast to that of radiation therapy aimed at a smaller part of the breast.
- Chemotherapy and targeted therapy: Researchers are testing new anticancer drugs and doses. They are looking at new drug combinations before surgery. They are also looking at new ways of combining chemotherapy with targeted therapy, hormone therapy, or radiation therapy. In addition, they are studying lab tests that may predict whether a woman might be helped by chemotherapy.
- Hormone therapy: Doctors are testing several types of hormone therapy, including aromatase inhibitors. They are looking at whether hormone therapy before surgery may help shrink the tumor.
- Supportive care: Doctors are looking at ways to lessen the side effects of treatment, such as lymphedema after surgery. They are looking at ways to reduce pain and improve quality of life.
Breast Cancer At A Glance
- One in every eight women in the United States develops breast cancer.
- The causes of breast cancer are not yet fully known although a number of risk factors have been identified.
- Breast cancer is diagnosed with self- and physician- examination of the breasts, mammography, ultrasound testing, and biopsy.
- There are many types of breast cancer that differ in their capability of spreading (metastasize) to other body tissues.
- Treatment of breast cancer depends on the type and location of the breast cancer, as well as the age and health of the patient.
- The American Cancer Society recommends that a woman should have a baseline mammogram between the ages of 35 and 40 years. Between 40 and 50 years of age mammograms are recommended every other year. After age 50 years, yearly mammograms are recommended.