Pharmacy Product - Types Of Cancer - Commom Types Of Cancers - Breast cancer

Breast cancer

The Breasts
Understanding Cancer
Risk Factors
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Additional Tests
Staging & Treatment

Breast Reconstruction
Complementary and Alternative Medicine
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The Promise of Cancer Research

The Promise of Cancer Research

Doctors all over the country are conducting many types of clinical trials (research studies in which people volunteer to take part). They are studying new ways to prevent, detect, diagnose, and treat breast cancer. Some are also studying therapies pharmacy health topics that may improve the quality of life for women during or after cancer treatment.

Clinical trials are designed to answer important questions and to find out whether new approaches are safe and effective. Research already has led to advances and researchers continue to search for more effective methods for dealing with cancer.

Women who join clinical trials may be among the first to benefit if a new approach is effective. And even if people in a trial do not benefit directly, they still make an important contribution by helping doctors learn more about breast cancer and how to control it. Although clinical trials may pose some risks, researchers do all they can to protect their patients.

If you are interested in being part of a clinical trial, talk with your doctor. Trials are available for all stages of breast cancer. You may want to read the NCI booklet Taking Part in Cancer Treatment Research Studies. It explains how clinical trials are carried out and explains their possible benefits and risks.

Research on Prevention

Scientists are looking for drugs that may prevent breast cancer. For example, they are testing several different drugs that lower hormone levels or prevent a hormone's effect on breast cells.

In one large study, the drug tamoxifen reduced the number of new cases of breast cancer among women who were at an increased risk of the disease. Doctors are studying whether the drug raloxifene is as effective as tamoxifen. This study is called STAR (Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene). Results will be available in late 2006.

Research on Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging

At this time, mammograms are the most effective tool we have to detect changes in the breast that may be cancer. In women at high risk of breast cancer, researchers are studying the combination of mammograms and ultrasound. Researchers are also exploring positron emission tomography (PET) and other pharmacy health topics ways to make detailed pictures of breast tissue.

In addition, researchers are studying tumor markers. Tumor markers may be found in blood, in urine, or in fluid from the breast (nipple aspirate). High amounts of these substances may be a sign of cancer. Some markers may be used to check breast cancer patients for signs of disease after treatment. At this time, however, no tumor marker test is reliable enough to be used routinely to detect breast cancer.

Ductal lavage also is under study. This technique collects cells from breast ducts. A liquid flows through a catheter (very thin, flexible tube) into the opening of a milk duct on the nipple. The liquid and breast cells are withdrawn through the tube. A pathologist checks the cells for cancer or changes that may suggest an increased risk of cancer.

Research on Treatment

Researchers are studying many types of treatment and their combinations:

* Surgery: Different types of surgery are being combined with other treatments.
* Radiation therapy: Doctors are studying whether radiation therapy can be used instead of surgery to treat cancer in lymph nodes. They are looking at the effectiveness of radiation therapy to a larger area around the breast. In women with early breast cancer, doctors are studying whether radiation therapy to a smaller part of the breast may be helpful.
* Chemotherapy: Researchers are testing new anticancer drugs and doses. They are working with drugs and combinations of drugs. They are looking at new drug combinations before surgery. They are also looking at new ways of combining chemotherapy with hormone therapy or radiation therapy.
* Hormone therapy: Researchers are testing several types of hormone therapy, including aromatase inhibitors.
* Biological therapy: New biological treatments also are under study. For example, researchers are studying cancer vaccines that help the immune system kill cancer cells.

In addition, researchers are looking at ways to lessen the side effects from treatment, such as lymphedema from surgery. They are looking at ways to reduce pain and improve quality of life. One method under study is sentinel lymph node biopsy. Today, surgeons have to remove many lymph nodes under the arm and check each of them for cancer. Researchers are studying whether checking only the node to which cancer is most likely to spread (sentinel lymph node) will allow them to predict whether cancer has spread to other nodes. If this new procedure works as well as standard treatment, surgeons may be pharmacy health topics able to remove fewer lymph nodes. This could reduce lymphedema for many patients.