October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and with that comes the opportunity to gain more of an insight on this form of cancer. We can learn what’s new as far as methods of early detection and treatment as well as how you might be able to reduce your risk.
Often times, breast cancer can appear as a lump, dimple or thickened area in the breast. At times, underarm lymph nodes might become swollen and enlarged. The breast itself can also become red or swollen. Though these symptoms may appear, it’s also possible that no symptoms will be noticed at all, making it incredibly important to get checked at least once a year. Additionally, if you do notice any physical abnormality, go see your doctor right away.
What advances in imagery and laboratory testing are there that can help detect breast cancer earlier? What treatments are out there, and what can you do to help reduce the risk?
What is Scintimammography?
Also known as molecular breast imaging, scintimammography is a test in which a slightly radioactive drug called a tracer is injected into the bloodstream. The tracer will attach to any breast cancer cells and will be detectable by a special camera.
While, at this time, scintimammography should not be used as a replacement for your regular mammogram, it is believed by some that it’s almost as accurate as more expensive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Studies show that molecular breast imaging reliably detects malignant tumors smaller than 2 centimeters. This suggests that scintimammography could have a very important role.
What’s New in Lab Testing?
Sensitive tests for circulating tumor cells will detect if these cells have broken off of the tumors and are moving through the body. This can aid in predicting which patients may have their cancer come back. It can also help to tell if treatment is working.
What Other Treatments are There?
A new form of drugs called targeted therapy drugs affect the cancer cells directly. These drugs literally target the gene changes in cancer cells that allow the cancerous cells to grow or spread.
There are also bone-directed treatments. These aid in strengthening the bones that may have been affected by the spread of cancer.
How Can You Reduce the Risk?
While hormone therapy drugs are often used to help treat breast cancer after it has already been detected, some might actually help prevent the cancer. Dietary supplements as well as a drug related to vitamin A are currently being studied as a way to help reduce the risk.
Whether or not you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s important to find a doctor with whom you feel comfortable. According to medical malpractice attorney, John Powers, if you have been the victim of medical malpractice, you need to seek help immediately. Help yourself avoid this situation during an already trying time by choosing a doctor that fits well with you.