Monday, June 23, 2014

Changing views on breast cancer

Treatment for breast cancer has changed over the past decades. This is a known fact but some of the newest changes are summarized in a recent article in the New York Times, "Outsmarting Breast Cancer". A couple of key points that hit home:

'“The size of the tumor and presence of positive nodes may not matter as much as we thought,” said Dr. Deborah M. Axelrod, a surgeon who directs breast cancer programs at the center. “It’s not even true that if the cancer is metastatic, it’s curtains.”'

While I do not have metastatic cancer, I have long thought that advances in treatment make cancer more of a chronic as opposed to a short life sentence.

'Instead of waiting for cancer to recur in certain high-risk patients, scientists are now developing techniques to outsmart the cancer cell’s aggressive tactics by prompting the patient’s immune system to launch a continuous attack that keeps the disease at bay indefinitely.

I like that one even better - preventing recurrence. Remember an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Even lumpectomy could eventually become a thing of the past if these techniques achieve their early promise.'

I really like that. Three lumpectomies later, I am a little lumpy..

'...gone is the simplistic notion that cancer is a disease of abnormal cell division, said Dr. Larry Norton, deputy physician-in-chief for breast cancer programs at Memorial Sloan Kettering. “It’s a disease of abnormal relationships between the cancer cell and other cells in its environment.”'

The cells are hanging out in the bad neighborhood obviously. I had heard this a few years back when I heard Dr Susan Love speak. Bad friends lead to bad things - remember what your mother said about some of your friends?

So change for the good for once.

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