5 Latest Breast Cancer Breakthroughs to Look Out For
Research is hard to make breast cancer a thing of the past. We take a look at the latest breast cancer breakthroughs here...
Breast cancer is a heartbreaking disease that affects more than 300,000 people per year. In 2020, over 42,000 people died from breast cancer.
This disease is hopeless for so many people. But, scientists and researchers aren't giving up hope. Researchers are always looking for new ways to diagnose and treat breast cancer.
If you or someone you love struggles with breast cancer, the future doesn't look as bleak as it once did.
From detection to prevention, these are 5 of the newest breast cancer breakthroughs.:
1. Detecting Cancer in a Blood Test
To date, the only way to detect the presence of breast cancer has been through a mammogram test. From there, if cancer is detected, a tissue biopsy must get taken to confirm its presence.
A "liquid biopsy," or blood test, has been sought out for a long time. Liquid biopsies have many advantages. A blood test could detect a tumor anywhere in the body, not just from a tissue sample in one location.
Blood draws are far less invasive than biopsies, and they can be performed in almost any clinic.
Until now, it has been challenging to find cancer cell markers or circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) in the blood.
Researchers have found exciting findings with the help of new technology. A new test called TARDIS detected ctDNA in as little as two parts per 100,000 in blood.
2. Predicting Breast Cancer in an Embryo
One of the latest breast cancer breakthroughs is predicting a person's risk for the disease.
Current research uses artificial intelligence (AI) to predict certain disease risks from DNA. New predictive tests can identify ten times as many high-risk people than older tests.
This DNA testing can predict which one of two siblings will get a condition such as breast cancer. The test operates with 70% to 90% accuracy.
Parents who use in vitro fertilization will be able to screen for possible risk factors before an embryo is chosen for the transfer.
3. AI Mammogram Reading
Not only does AI help in predicting disease, but it also helps to increase accuracy in mammogram readings.
In a recent study, AI was as accurate as an average radiologist at identifying breast cancer. In some cases, it was even better than the radiologist.
Combining the radiologist with the AI is even more exciting. When combined, they reached 93% specificity.
Researchers have noted that AI detects breast cancer on mammograms with fewer false positives and fewer false negatives than an average radiologist.
This new breast cancer breakthrough will help get care into more people's lives without missing out on crucial treatment time. AI will also be able to deliver screening results in any instance of a physician shortage.
4. New Approved Drugs
There are many rare forms of breast cancer that deal with specific proteins or gene mutations. Certain patients deal with cancer that has spread, called metastatic cancer. New drugs are helping these challenging cases.
1 in 5 breast cancer cases is HER2-positive. HER2 is a protein that stands for "human epidermal growth factor receptor 2."
New FDA-approved drugs are specific to the treatment of HER2-positive breast cancer.
- Enhertu is a drug for patients with metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer who have already received 2 or more treatments.
- Tukysa helps treat patients whose breast cancer has metastasized to the brain.
- Nerlynx is to be combined with another drug called capecitabine. It treats advanced or metastatic HER2-positive patients who have previously received 2 or more treatments.
There is now a test called MSK-IMPACT that looks for gene mutations. For patients with a PIK3CA mutation, this test detects which tumors have the mutation.
The breakthrough drug alpelisib, or PIQRAY, treats metastatic breast cancer with the PIK3CA mutation. Combined with hormone therapy, this new drug improves the risk of disease progression.
5. Adapting Chemotherapy
Researchers continue to discover more about the effectiveness of chemotherapy. New genomic tests predict if chemotherapy would even benefit certain breast cancer cases.
Chemo takes a toll on its patients, so who does and does not need it saves a lot of morale. Most women over the age of 50 with estrogen-driven cancer and negative lymph nodes will not need chemotherapy.
Additionally, patients with certain types of breast cancer may have chemotherapy before surgery. The typical treatment is usually the other way around. Seeing how specific patients respond to chemo can help doctors determine post-surgery care.
Doctor Larry Norton performed research about the time between chemotherapy sessions. His work showed that patients who have less time between chemo sessions have fewer reappearances of breast cancer.
Cancer has less time to regrow if there is less time between treatments. This finding contributes to patients living longer lives.
For patients with a rare triple-negative form of breast cancer, the FDA has approved an immunotherapy drug. This drug, atezolizumab, is meant to be combined with chemotherapy.
When chemo and immunotherapy are combined, the chances for progression-free survival improve. Progression-free survival is the amount of time that cancer does not worsen during and after treatment.
Breast Cancer Breakthroughs Bring Hope
As the medical world is constantly adapting, there is hope for hopeless diseases. New breast cancer breakthroughs change the way doctors detect and treat the grim disease.
While there is still no cure for breast cancer, researchers are not giving up. There is hope that one day a cure will be found. For now, treatment breakthroughs help ease the pain of the disease.
For more health information, check out the other articles here on our blog.
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