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Breast cancer incidence is still the most serious he alth problem among women. Therefore, scientists continue their efforts to develop new methods of diagnosing and treating this cancer. Check out what's new in the treatment of breast cancer.
The introduction of herceptin to oncological treatment 15 years ago significantly improvedtreatment outcomes ofbreast cancer with overexpression of the HER2 receptor. Herceptin is still used, but it is considered a classic drug. The laboratories are working on new therapies that can be selected according to the characteristics of a given tumor. There are also advances in methods of diagnosing breast cancer.
Breast cancer diagnosis - what besides mammography?
Early detection of breast cancer gives patients a much better chance of a complete cancer recovery. Mammography (mammography screening) has proven and scientifically proven benefits. But it also has a lot of limitations. Unfortunately, it can give you false positive or false negative results. Therefore, diagnostic techniques are sought that would be burdened with the lowest possible risk of error. Great hopes are raised by the work on new ultrasound machines that will show the entire breast, and therefore will enable the detection of much smaller changes than is possible today. Scientists are also experimenting with diagnostic devices that will not emit ionizing radiation (it is known that it is not indifferent to he alth).
Sentinel node biopsy
It is considered a great achievement of recent years because it significantly improves the quality of life after surgery. The sentinel node is the first lymph node to which the tumor drains. In the case of breast cancer, when the primary tumor spreads, the cancer cells and the lymph reach the armpit. This is the first place where metastases are found. The condition of this node is representative of the remaining lymph nodes in the armpit. This means that if this node does not have cancer metastases, then other nodes do not have metastasis either.
Sentinel node biopsy is one of the diagnostic procedures that allows the assessment of disease progression. This is an excellent alternative to the old procedure for removing all knots in the armpit. If, after examination by a pathologist, it turns out that there are no cancer cells in the sentinel node, with approx. 97%it is probable that other lymph nodes in this area are free of metastasis. Such a biopsy allows the identification of patients who do not need to remove all nodes.
The benefits for this group of patients are enormous, because postoperative complications are significantly reduced. There is no lymphoedema in the hand, no sensory disturbances in the armpit area, and no stiffness in the shoulder. The scar is also smaller, which translates into a shorter recovery time, less pain and better hand mobility.
The phenomenon of systemic treatment
Systemic treatment is a new quality in the treatment of malignant neoplasms. What is it about? Well, for many years all cancers have been assessed as diseases located in specific organs. There was talk of breast, stomach, lung and kidney cancer. Since the introduction of microscopic examination, it has been clear that cancer of the same organ behaves differently from person to person. Some people were recovering from the disease, others, unfortunately, not. In other words, the prognosis for patients was different. Modern medicine gives the answer why this is so, because it allows you to look behind the scenes of these biological processes.
It turned out that tumors located in the same organ differ in biological characteristics, sometimes even very significantly. It has been proven that it is the biological characteristics that determine the patient's future and the cancer susceptibility to treatment.
At the moment, a distinction is made not only between breast cancer, but more precisely: breast cancer with or without estrogen receptors, HER2 receptor or not. This helps to better choose the therapy. However, there is still a debate as to whether such divisions taking into account the individual characteristics of the tumor should be different neoplasms located in the same organ, or different neoplasms at all. The knowledge of the biological features of cancer that the oncologist has at his disposal allows him to act more effectively and determines the patient's future.
Not only mastectomy
Mastectomy, or removal of the breast, was and is one of the methods of treating breast cancer, because there is no other solution for advanced disease. However, modern oncology is also a sparing treatment, which consists in removing the part of the breast in which the tumor is located. More and more women use this form of treatment, but only when the cancer is diagnosed early enough. However, this may also change soon, as work on the inoperable elimination of breast cancer is very advanced. The researchers hope that the surgeon's knife can be replaced with radio waves or ultrasound waves.monthly "Zdrowie"