A friend of mine who is a 34-year-old breast cancer survivor recently told me that she opted to take part in a clinical trial, so that she could personally "contribute to research and hopefully make the treatment for women after [her] easier." It's thanks to women like my friend that we continue to make progress with research. Major progress, like a new breast cancer study that has been hailed as "revolutionary" and "landmark."
Basically, the study, which was published in the journal Nature, concludes that breast cancer is actually "not one disease, but 10 different diseases." Huh! They compare it to a map of the world. So, instead of looking at breast cancer in terms of "continents," we should be looking at it as "countries." I know ... a bit confusing, but bear with me.
Currently, breast cancers are classified by what they look like under a microscope and tests for "markers" on the tumors. So, those with estrogen receptors are supposed to respond to hormone therapies, and those with "Her2" receptors can be treated with a different drug. Most breast cancers respond to hormone therapies, but sometimes ... their reaction to treatment varies -- a LOT. That's why the researchers of this study say it's imperative to seek even more specific classification of the different types of breast cancer. It makes a lot of sense.
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Think about the women you know who have battled the disease -- from celebrities like Giuliana Rancic and Suzanne Somers to your next door neighbor or aunt. As far as I've heard, no two experiences with breast cancer treatment ever seem to be exactly alike. Maybe similar, but maybe that's because those two women had the same type of these 10 types of breast cancer. Serves to reason that being able to better identify each type could drastically and positively change how we treat -- and perhaps even prevent -- breast cancer.
As my friend put it ...
I realize that cancer (any type) is an ongoing battle, and we'll continue to learn more the longer we study it. So each new generation will benefit from those that came before. I'm happy that we're learning new things, and it makes me feel better that if my cancer ever comes back, I'll likely have more options than I did the first time.
Thanks to this breakthrough study, it sounds like, sooner rather than later, any woman battling breast cancer may have more and more precise, tailored options. And that's a win for everyone.
What do you think about this study?
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