Breast Cancer: New Study Will Lead To New Treatment Therapies

Medical Treatments09-24-2012 The airwaves are all abuzz with an exciting new study published in Nature, an international weekly journal of science. This new break through is being called “a road map to understanding the disease” and is predicted to lead to much more targeted and effective treatments. Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News’ Chief Health Medical Editor says “This study opens up all kinds of avenues for potential treatments.”  Dr. Besser mentioned that some doctors may already be changing their treatment strategies due to this information.

On NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, Robert Bazell reported that the research is part of the giant federal project to analyze the thousands of changes in the DNA of cells that lead to all kinds of cancer.  The research provides the strongest evidence that breast cancer is not one disease, but four major types and many subtypes.  This means that some drugs that are already being used to treat some diseases like leukemia, melanoma, lung and other cancers might also be used to treat some breast cancers.  And the study offers clues for developing entirely new drugs.

Dr. Richard Besser on World News with Diane Sawyer explained that the study adds to our understanding that when it comes to cancer, it may matter less what part of the body it is in, whether it’s in your lungs, your breasts or your colon, but more important, what are the defects in those cancer cells that cause them to grow out of control. What they found was that there was a variety of defects that caused them to be cancer and each of these defects act as a different disease and takes a different form of treatment.

In the case of triple negative breast cancer, which is about 10% of breast cancers, and very hard to treat, they found that those cells genetically were more closely related to ovarian cancer than to breast cancer. Dr. Besser said some doctors are already trying to use treatments for ovarian cancer to treat this particular type of breast cancer.  Dr. Besser feels this breakthrough is very exciting.

However optimistic this may sound, NBC’s Robert Bazell says  doctors who treat women with breast cancer say their patients need to know that while today’s results are exciting, clinical trials are still needed and those are likely years away.

Dr. Jennifer Litton of Anderson Cancer Center told NBC “This isn’t something that we all can take action on tomorrow in the clinic, but it’s how we’re going to put together our next round of therapies and it’s how we’re going to move forward to change this disease.”

 

 

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