By – Dr. Maitri Gandhi, Consultant- Radiation Oncology, HCG Cancer Centre, Ahmedabad
Breast cancer is one of the most diagnosed forms of cancer affecting men and women worldwide. Breast cancer is a type of cancer that forms in the cells of the breast. It occurs when normal breast cells mutate and begin to grow uncontrollably, forming a lump or mass called a tumor. However, in recent years, significant strategies have been made in the field of breast cancer treatment. These advancements have not only improved survival rates but also improved the quality of life for those affected. Several research studies are being conducted and new advanced groundbreaking treatment options are being identified. Here are some of the methods which were employed in improving the treatment strategy for breast cancer.
ReductIon of lymphedema cases through node preservations: Lymphedema incidence is significantly decreased by node maintenance, particularly in the setting of cancer treatment. Chronic lymphedema, which is defined by an abnormal buildup of lymph fluid, is frequently treated by the removal or destruction of lymph nodes during cancer surgery or radiation treatment. In breast cancer and gynecological cancer treatments, where lymph node excision is widespread, this tactic is especially crucial. Patients who have their nodes preserved are less likely to have their lymphatic system disturbed, which lowers their risk of developing lymphedema. Sentinel node mapping is one of the methods which helps surgeon identify the affected lymph node and perform surgery on it without disturbing the other lymphatic nodes.
Awareness and Early Detection: Early screening and mammography detection have been instrumental in detecting cancer at the earliest stages and treatment of breast cancer becomes even easier. This method has improved the overall outcome of treatment.
Personalized Medicine: The shift towards personalized medicine is one of the best treatments for breast cancer. Earlier, breast cancer treatment plans were based on the stage and type of cancer. Today, genomic testing helps doctors to analyze the genetic makeup of the tumor and tailor the treatment plan accordingly.
Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy has completely changed the way in which we combat breast cancer. Through this approach the body’s immune system is harnessed to target and destroy cancer cells. Certain drugs such as trastuzumab and pembrolizumab have been approved for the treatment of certain breast cancer subtypes. These drugs have successfully improved and extended the lives of patients combating metastatic breast cancer.
Targeted Therapies: Targeted therapies are those which target the specific protein or genes responsible for the growth and spread of cancer cells. Advancements in targeted therapies have proved effective. Drugs like CDK4/6 inhibitors have proven highly successful in treating hormone receptor-positive breast cancer by enhancing the survival rates and quality of life for patients.
Minimally Invasive Surgical Techniques: Surgical techniques like breast-conserving surgery and sentinel lymph node biopsy have become standard practices, limiting the need for extensive surgery procedures, and reducing the complications associated with them.
Clinical Trials: Several researchers from around the world are conducting a plethora of clinical trials, exploring new treatment methods, therapies, medications, and several others to improvise and offer a beacon of hope for patients.
To conclude, breast cancer treatment has seen several advancements in recent years. Targeted therapies, personalized medicines, minimal invasive surgical techniques, ongoing clinical trials, immunotherapy, and many other advancements are offering a beacon of hope for patients combating with breast cancer by extending and enhancing the quality of life. With continued innovation, research and awareness, we can achieve a world without breast cancer and if diagnosed, can be cured easily.