Latest Developments in Breast Cancer Research
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a nationwide rallying cry dedicated to encouraging patients, strengthening survivors, and advancing medical treatments. The disease has touched countless lives, including many of us here at Watertree Health. Breast cancer claims 40,000 lives each year, but just as important, there are nearly 2.9 million women living with breast cancer and walking the journey of survival.
One of the main goals of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is to raise funds for treatment research, and that research is continuously pushing forward at a rapid pace. In recent years, new technology has made major strides in the battle against breast cancer. Here are some of the latest and most successful scientific developments that are taking place right now.
A New Non-Surgical Option: Cryoablation
Cryoablation is a medical procedure that involves destroying cancer cells by freezing them. In some studies, scientists have seen extremely successful results with the freezing alone. One report from August 2014 showed that cryoablation was effective in killing 93.8 percent of breast cancer tumors that were smaller than 1 cm.
Other breast cancer researchers are looking to cryoablation to ramp up the immune system. In these studies, reports have shown that freezing the tumor activates special immune system cells. Patients are also treated with immunotherapy drugs to further stimulate the immune system. In this way, the woman’s immune system can be trained to recognize the cancer cells as “foreign” and destroy them. This specific therapy is currently in a phase II study that involves treating women with triple negative breast cancer (TNBC).
A New Vaccine: NeuVax
Scientists are now in the final stages of testing a breast cancer vaccine called NeuVax. This vaccine combines a small portion of a cancer protein with a strong immune system activator. Doctors administer the vaccine at the beginning of treatment in women with aggressive forms of breast cancer with the hope that it will prevent the cancer from coming back. Without the vaccine, approximately 20 percent of women with this type of breast cancer will see the cancer return within three years. However, studies show that the vaccine cuts the likelihood of reoccurrence in half.
A New Natural Treatment: Vitamin D
Vitamin D isn’t a fancy new drug, but the outcomes of this therapy have been just as effective as some advanced drug therapies. Several studies and scientific analyses in recent years have focused on the relationship between vitamin D and breast cancer. Here are some highlights:
- The average vitamin D concentration of breast cancer patients in the United States is 17 ng/ml.
- High levels of vitamin D are extremely important in preventing and fighting breast cancer because the vitamin works to block aggressive cell division—a key hallmark of cancer.
- Breast cancer patients with high levels of vitamin D (above 30 ng/ml) are twice as likely to survive the cancer as women with low levels of the vitamin (below 17 ng/ml).
- Vitamin D levels of 50 ng/ml have been linked to a 50 percent lower risk of breast cancer.
- Women with early-stage breast cancer and low levels of vitamin D are more likely to see their cancer spread throughout the body and ultimately die from the disease than women with high levels of the vitamin.
Even though researchers agree that vitamin D looks promising for the prevention and treatment of breast cancer, there is no standard dosage. Some doctors recommend that women who have been diagnosed take 4,000 International Units (IU) of vitamin D per day, while other medical professionals recommend doses as high as 40,000 IU per day. In addition, some researchers look for blood levels as high as 50 ng/ml, while others aim for levels higher than 80 ng/ml.Most of the treatments mentioned in this blog are not available yet or are only available to women with very specific cases of breast cancer. If you’d like to know more about treatment advances for your type of breast cancer, we encourage you to visit The Breast Cancer Research Foundation or Susan G. Komen.
If you are on a medication for breast cancer and you need help affording the prescription, download a free Watertree Health Prescription Discount Card or request a card be mailed to you. It provides significant discounts on almost all recommended medications (brand and generic). Most experts agree, taking your medicines as prescribed improves overall health and wellbeing and lowers cost of health care for everyone.
Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health.
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