Hope is All We Need
November 4, 2013

Hope Is All We Need

Yahoo Health recently posted an article about seven breakthroughs in breast cancer. As a wrap-up to October, which was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I wanted to leave readers with this educational blog about hope for breast cancer.

1) Breast Cancer Prevention Pill

For women over 35 who have an increased risk for breast cancer the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two medications to help prevent the threat of breast cancer. Tamoxifen and raloxifene are the names of the two FDA-approved medications. According to the Yahoo Health article, “The selective estrogen receptor modulator drugs…have been shown to cut a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer by interfering with estrogen’s effects on breast tissue. However, because the drugs can cause blood clots and other serious health issues, the USPSTF [US Preventive Services Task Force] warns that the potential negative side effects outweigh the benefits for women at average risk for breast cancer.”

Obviously, the side effects of blood clots and other health issues are a problem, but wouldn’t it be nice if doctors and scientists found a pill that men and women could take to prevent—or at least combat—breast cancer? That would definitely be a good day.

2) Early-Stage Breast Cancer Drug

Perjeta is an early-stage breast cancer drug used as a pre-surgery treatment. redOrbit reported on the drug explaining that it “is a personalised medicine that targets the HER2 receptor, a protein found in high quantities on the outside of cancer cells inHER2-positive cancers. Perjeta is believed to work in a way that is complementary to Herceptin, as the two medicines target differentplaces on the HER2 receptor.” The hope from doctors is that the first drug will help shrink tumors to make them easier to remove and thus help women avoid mastectomies.

3) 3-D Mammograms

A third impressive breast cancer breakthrough is the 3-D mammogram. These will hopefully “reduce stress-inducing false alarms (results that look like cancer, but aren’t) by 17 percent, without missing any actual cancers.” Thus far, only 300 US medical centers have the 3-D technology, but now that the FDA-approved it and studies show serious benefits, hopefully more medical centers will have access to them.

4) Less surgery, More Accurate Diagnosis

Breast cancer is scary. Even the threat of breast cancer is scary, so it is important that testing—from self-tests to mammograms to biopsies—is accurate. One way to help with this is an ultrasound device called the Aixplorer Ultrasound System, which “could reduce unnecessary biopsies by helping doctors tell which lumps are malignant. In a 2012 multi-center study, the device correctly classified 78.5 percent of suspicious breast lumps analyzed, compared to 61.1 percent accuracy when conventional ultrasound was used.” With more accurate diagnosis comes a more accurate plan to combat the cancer or prevent it in the future.

5) Gene Test to Predict Risk of Recurrence

For a woman (or man) who has had and fought breast cancer, recurrence is the motto. A new gene test “calculates the 10-year risk that a woman with certain types of early-stage breast cancer will suffer a recurrence. Intended only for patients who have undergone standard surgical and oncological treatments, the test analyzes cells from the woman’s tumor to check for 50 genes involved in the growth and spread of cancer. It then classifies the woman’s risk of cancer recurrence from low to high.” This could provide many with a peace of mind to help them heal and stay healthy.

6) A Vaccine!?!

If you are anything like me, then seeing the word vaccine in this article caught your attention. I mean, if there is a potential vaccine against breast cancer, why am I just now reading about it? The answer, of course, is because the vaccine is a recent discovery thus is still in research and testing mode. But what a good day it would be if this turns out to work to prevent and combat the risks of cancer?

7) Triple Negative Breast Cancer: New Weapons

The Yahoo article puts it best:

“This form of the disease is tough to treat because it lacks the three receptors that fuel most breast cancer growth. As a result, TNBC doesn’t respond to conventional targeted therapies. While the disease can sometimes be treated effectively with chemotherapy, it remains the most deadly form of breast cancer. Large genetic studies have revealed that TNBC has molecular similarities to certain ovarian cancers, a discovery that could lead to new therapies. Additionally, researchers have identified several promising new targets that are now being studied in clinical trials…”

With each of these seven possibilities comes hope—hope for a healthier future, hope for no more breast cancer, hope that our loved ones will no longer suffer. Yes, hope is what we need, what Breast Cancer Awareness Month is all about every year. Hope.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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