Medically Reviewed by Ravneet Bajwa, MD
Thanks to early diagnosis and a range of new treatment discoveries, women with breast cancer are seeing improved chances of long-term survival.
“Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer globally and is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women,” says McLeod Oncologist Dr. Ravneet Bajwa. “Increasing breast cancer awareness and screening has helped diagnose breast cancer at an early stage for many women. Treatment of breast cancer has also become more individualized based on the type of breast cancer, the age of the patient, stage of the breast cancer and other medical conditions.
In addition, we have multiple new agents, such as targeted therapy, which are medications that act against a specific receptor on the cancer cells or against a pathway, where the cancer cell can become very aggressive.
These targeted drugs attack only the cancer cells and spare the body’s normal tissues. In that way, we are maximizing the benefit of the treatment for the patient and minimizing toxicity of the treatment on the patient’s body. It improves outcomes and survival in breast cancer patients.
Immunotherapy is also being studied for use in breast cancer. Based on strong clinical evidence, many women with early stage breast cancer can now forgo chemotherapy and, instead, receive treatment with anti-hormonal therapy, which is easier for patients to tolerate.
Multiple new medications have been approved by the FDA in the last year. These developments are changing the outlook of breast cancer all together. We are seeing better outcomes and better survival in these patients.”
WHO NEEDS A MAMMOGRAM?
The U.S. Preventative Task Force or the American Cancer Society, recommend that at the age of 50 all women should start annual screening mammography. However, some clinical societies, such as the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, suggest annual screening mammograms start at age 40. This particularly applies to women with a strong family history of breast cancer, very dense breasts or other risk factors, such as exposure to hormonal drugs during their lifetime.
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE
If you are age 40 or older, ask your personal physician if you should start annual mammograms. Some risk factors, such as a family history of breast cancer, can’t be changed. However, there are a number of risk factors you can control.
Have a question? Ask a Cancer Specialist.