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The methods used to treat breast cancer are always evolving. In addition to the treatments, great strides are being taken in methods used for research in relation to the disease. While self-exams and mammography can be instrumental in helping with early detection, the following are some interesting advances.
What Causes Breast Cancer?
Studies are continuously trying to uncover the reasons behind breast cancer. In addition to lifestyle factors, there are also links between heredity, autism and age. The effect of weight gain due to menopause, diet and alcohol are other instrumental findings. Genetic testing for mutations such as BRCA2 and BRCA1 are continuing at a quick pace. Scientists are also looking into the various gene factors that heighten the risk of breast cancer. While recycling and natural methods of weed control are helping Mother Earth, the environment is still a major factor in the development of deadly tissues. Active research is an ongoing practice to better decipher what is at the center of the issues. Another study hoping to find the reasons behind breast cancer is best known as the Sister Study. With funds by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, researchers follow over 50,000 women who have a sibling with breast cancer. It takes close to 10 years to collect the important information in regards to lifestyle, environment and genes.
Methods Used to Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer
Better education, support, self-exams and mammograms are all used to help lessen a person’s chances of developing breast cancer. Promotingmore natural methods of personal hygiene and cleanliness can also aid in reducing the risk. Other methods include finding retinoids that can minimize breast cancer. Fentretinide is a retinoid that is being studied by researchers to help prevent breast cancer. Similar to tamoxifen when it comes to helping, it’s a drug that is associated with vitamin A. Other drugs that can aid in the reduction are also being studied and include aromatase inhibitors.
Individuals who were vitamin D deficient and at the early stages of breast cancer had a greater chance of having their disease reoccur. They also had a poorer future prognosis. While more research is needed to verify the findings, scientists aren’t quite sure whether a vitamin D supplement could prove helpful. Testing can allow your doctor to determine if your vitamin D levels are within a healthy range.
New Imaging Tests
Imaging methods are used to determine the extent of an abnormality in the breast. Scintimammography is a molecular breast test where a radioactive substance is injected into the vein. Attached to the breast, this special camera can verify and determine specific images in breast cancer cells. While regular mammograms are fine, this latest technology can better determine if the suspicious areas need further checking. It may also be more accurate than costly MRI equipment. However, this type of test should be an addition to your yearly mammogram and not a replacement.
Partial mastectomies and lumpectomies are typically used in the early stages of breast cancers. This form of breast conserving instrumentation allows the woman to save a portion of their breast. Unfortunately, it can result breasts looking abnormal in both shape and size. In the case of larger tumors, a full mastectomy may be needed. Oncoplastic surgery combines plastic surgery with cancer surgery. While this surgical advance is at the early stages, it can make the breasts look symmetrical and natural.
Advanced stages of breast cancer can often be difficult to treat. That’s why researchers are always looking for new drugs. A different drug class is being developed in hopes of targeting BRCA mutated cancers. PARP inhibitors are showing great promise at its clinical stages in helping those with prostate, ovarian and breast cancers.