Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in the United States. Therefore, advancements in breast cancer treatment are of grave importance. Breast cancer research is at the forefront of the battle against this prevalent and fatal disease that affects one in eight women. The importance of research in any disease cannot be overstated. It’s the same with breast cancer.
Many researchers today also address disparities in breast cancer patients based on socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, and geographic location. Breast cancer research has helped with advancements in:
- Early detection: It’s essential to raise awareness about the early detection of a tumor. Early detection significantly increases the chances of a successful treatment and has a greater survival rate.
- Personalized treatment: Ongoing research has scientists probing breast cancer’s genetic and molecular complexities. This will help them come up with personalized treatment options and targeted therapies that can be tailored to individual patient needs.
- New therapies: Constant research has helped researchers develop innovative therapies like immunotherapy and hormone therapy.
- A good quality of life: We aren’t limiting our ideas to treatment and medicines when discussing research. Research will also focus on enhancing the quality of life for breast cancer survivors. These studies address the physical, financial, emotional, and psychological challenges they face.
- Prevention strategies: This is one of the most crucial aspects of breast cancer research. What can the pupil do to prevent this disease? Studies explore lifestyle factors, environmental changes, genetic predispositions, or other influences in the human body.
Latest findings in breast cancer research
Here are some of the latest discoveries in breast cancer research:
- A new study by researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer, University of California, Irvine, and Baylor College of Medicine created the world’s largest and most comprehensive map of normal breast tissue. This provides a new and unparalleled understanding of breast tissues that can help identify therapies for diseases related to the mammary gland.
- Researchers have now found how breast cancer originates. As stated by Harvard Medical School, “Researchers trace the origin of certain breast cancers to genomic reshuffling, rearrangement of chromosomes, that activates cancer genes and ignites disease. The finding offers a long-missing explanation for many cases of the disease that remain unexplained by the classical model of breast cancer development. The study shows the sex hormone estrogen, thus far thought to be only a fuel for breast cancer growth, can directly cause tumor-driving genomic rearrangements.”
- Engineers have developed an AI program that predicts whether a patient with breast cancer would benefit from chemotherapy before the surgery. Wong, a professor of systems design engineering, says, “Determining the right treatment for a given breast cancer patient is very difficult right now, and it is crucial to avoid unnecessary side effects from using treatments that are unlikely to have real benefit for that patient. An AI system that can help predict if a patient is likely to respond well to a given treatment gives doctors the tool to prescribe the best personalized treatment to improve recovery and survival.”
Advancements in breast cancer treatment
Apart from advancements in immunotherapy, liquid biopsies, and personalized medicines, there are other advancements in the breast cancer treatment:
- 3-D mammography: 3-D mammography or three-dimensional mammography is also known as digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT), an advanced imaging technology used to screen breast cancer patients. This one is much better than the 2-D mammography, which captures only two images of each breast. DBT takes multiple X-ray images from various angles around the breast, providing a more explicit and detailed view of the breast tissue.
- Elacestrant: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Elacestrant for postmenopausal women or adult men with ER-positive, HER2-negative, ESR1-mutated advanced or metastatic breast cancer.
- Combination therapies: Researchers are likely to explore combinations of different treatment modes, such as combining immunotherapy with traditional chemotherapy or radiation therapy. These combination approaches may enhance the effectiveness of treatments and reduce the risk of resistant cancer cells.
- Biomarker discovery: Research efforts may focus on discovering novel biomarkers to improve clinical outcomes. Identifying new biomarkers associated with breast cancer can aid in early diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment response prediction.
Role of clinical trials in breast cancer research
Clinical trials play a crucial role in breast cancer research. They test new treatments, therapies, and interventions in human subjects with safety measures and precautions. They expand our knowledge of breast cancer while exploring the possibility of finding a permanent cure. Here’s how they work and why they are crucial in the fight against breast cancer:
Testing new treatments
Scientists test new treatments and check the effectiveness of new drugs, therapies, or treatment combinations. These treatments may include chemotherapy drugs, targeted therapies, immunotherapies, hormone therapies, or experimental surgical techniques.
Clinical trials often compare treatments being administered to breast cancer patients. They look at the effectiveness of a new treatment against the current standard of care. This helps them understand whether the new approach is better. It also helps them understand which treatment is safer and more tolerable.
Some clinical trials also extensively focus on improving early detection methods. They try to find out what can be done to prevent the occurrence of the disease. Their primary focus is exploring techniques such as advanced imaging, genetic testing, and lifestyle interventions.
Finding side effects
Researchers working on clinical trials closely monitor trial participants for side effects and allergic reactions to treatment. This information is needed to understand a drug or therapy’s potential risk.
Coming up with personalized medicine
Scientists also investigate treatments based on specific genetic mutations or biomarkers. This personalized approach tailors treatment plans to individual patients, improving therapies’ potency while decreasing side effects.
How to contribute to breast cancer research
When you contribute to breast cancer research, you indirectly lend your support toward the betterment of the patients and the development of more effective treatments. Here are some ways in which you can contribute:
Many reputable organizations like the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen, and Breast Cancer Research Foundation exist. They depend on donations to fund their various research initiatives. You can make financial contributions per your abilities and support their services for patients, clinical trials, and new medicines.
Participate in clinical trials
If you are eligible, you can participate in clinical trials. Clinical trial participants play a vital role in testing new treatments and therapies. Talk to your healthcare provider or oncologist to determine your qualifications and then explore relevant clinical trials available in your area.
Advocacy and awareness
Raise awareness about breast cancer and advocate for research funding. You can do so by participating in fundraising events, sharing educational resources, and engaging with your community to promote breast cancer awareness. Education and awareness are critical in enlightening and encouraging others to support research initiatives.
You can dedicate your time and skills to any research organization. Volunteer at the research center, fundraising events, or work with the organizers of support groups. You can also help raise funds while providing emotional support to patients.
Support patient and survivor programs
Contribute to programs and events that support breast cancer patients and survivors. These offer valuable resources, counseling, and assistance during and after treatment.
Encourage early detection
Talk to your friends and family about self-examinations, regular mammograms, and screenings because early detection can save lives. Educate them on the importance of early detection and raise awareness.
Cancer can be scary, and breast cancer patients may feel like they are in a never-ending battle. Breast cancer research is vital to build trust and awareness. We can arrive at better personalized treatments and early detection methods through it.