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More than 20,000 people develop breast cancer each year Polish women, dying - about 9 thousand It is still the most common cancer disease in women all over the world. During the pandemic, many patients withdrew from preventive examinations or started treatment too late. Meanwhile, modern medicine offers more and more therapeutic options for the treatment of breast cancer.

The diagnosis of "breast cancer" is usually devastating for patients. It's not easy to deal with disease awareness, especially when you don't know much about it. In order to meet the needs of cancer patients, the "You have a choice" campaign (created by the Federation of "Amazons" Associations, the Spa for Cancer Foundation and the Pfizer company) was created, the aim of which is to broaden the knowledge of patients about the available methods of breast cancer treatment, as well as encourage them to actively engage getting involved in the treatment process and making decisions together with the doctor regarding the choice of the treatment path. -You have the choice to change the doctor, you have the choice to consult someone else, you have the choice of your treatment path, you have the right to ask the doctor if this is the only possible therapy- says the President of the Spa Foundation for Cancer,Anna Hencka-Zyser . -The campaign is to teach us to strive and get our own- he adds.

Diagnosis and what next?

Breast cancer manifests itself as a lump in the breast, i.e. a cluster of abnormal cancer cells. The types of changes vary - the method of therapy used and the chance of recovery depend on the type of cancer. Not every change requires the removal of the breast or part of it, and not every change requires the administration of chemotherapy, i.e. the therapy most often associated with oncological diseases. Therefore, a patient suspected of having breast cancer undergoes numerous tests, the main of which are biopsy and sample evaluation. Based on it, the oncologist decides on the treatment method.

Hormone-dependent tumors and their treatment

The most common type of breast cancer in women is hormone-dependent cancer. Cancer cells have a strong ability to multiply - in the event of a hormone-dependent change, this ability is stimulated by hormones. This group of neoplasms includes changes with positive estrogen or progesterone receptors, for which the multiplication factor is these two hormones, and HER2 neoplasms, i.e.those with an excessive number of epidermal growth factor receptors.

-Hormone-sensitive neoplasms account for roughly 80 percent of all breast cancers, so it is by far the most common biological subtype- explainsAgnieszka Jagiełło-Gruszfeld, MD, PhDfrom the National Institute of Oncology Maria Skłodowskiej-Curie National Research Institute in Warsaw. -Since the choice of a method of cancer treatment depends precisely on its subtype, this is essential information for a doctor. If we are dealing with the so-called luminal cancer, which has positive estrogen and progesterone receptors, the main method of treatment is hormone therapy combined with drugs from the cyclib group, i.e. CDK4 / 6 inhibitors.- he adds.

To sum up: the goal of hormonal treatment in breast cancer patients is to eliminate the stimulating effect of hormones on the growth of cancer cells.

At the same time, hormonal treatment is less invasive for the woman's body and provides the patient with a better quality of life. It does not have the same strong side effects as chemotherapy and is more convenient because it does not require frequent visits to the hospital (treatment with oral medications).

-We have three CDK4 / 6 inhibitors on the market -explains Dr. Jagiełło-Gruszfeld.- They are available and reimbursed under drug programs for patients with disseminated disease , i.e. when the patient already has metastases, thanks to the contract signed between the National He alth Fund and the oncology facility. There are several such places in each province - this is the Breast Cancer Unit. These centers employ specialists specialized in the treatment of breast cancer: surgeons, oncologists, radiotherapists, psycho-oncologists, physiotherapists and nurses. This facility has a duty to ensure that a patient who reports suspected breast cancer is diagnosed within two weeks. The center has another two weeks from the initial diagnosis to the patient's consultation before the consultation. These time conditions are strictly adhered to here. It is worth emphasizing, because patients often think that if they report to such a large center, it will be crowded and the waiting time for treatment will be very long- adds Dr. Jagiełło-Gruszfeld.

More knowledge is needed

Although treatment with the support of cyclibs is considered to be gentler on the body, many patients with hormone-dependent breast cancer are still treated with chemotherapy.

The patients themselves often do not know that there is an alternative to chemotherapy. Meanwhile, modern oncology not only gives the doctor a choice, butit also allows not to burden patients, and even improves their quality of life. It enables precise treatment of a given type of cancer.

-Hormone therapies have been available with us for several years. But at the beginning they were also not popular among patients. It happened that I offered such treatment and was refused. The patient asked for chemotherapy, fearing that the drugs would be simply ineffective- explains Agnieszka Jagiełło-Gruszfeld, MD, PhD.

The situation is changing, incl. thanks to the "You have a choice" campaign. President of the Spa for Cancer foundation,Anna Hencka-Zyserclaims that it is an effective way to show women that there are other, modern, safe methods of breast cancer treatment, that they bring visible benefits and provide many years of service. peaceful, in a good quality of life, despite illness.

-Every patient who receives a diagnosis is shocked. He is looking for a specialist, but not for treatment methods, because he relies on a doctor to do this. He gets the diagnosis in a package with the type of therapy. Rarely does any woman have the courage to ask- explains Anna Hencka-Zyser. -We want to tell them that they have a choice and that they can participate in the treatment decision-making process. Everything we do in our lives is a choice.

As part of the "You have a choice" campaign, which has been going on since September 2022, the Spa for Cancer foundation organizes meetings for women who deal with breast cancer, conducts workshops with psychologists, couchami, trainers and doctors.

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