Breast cancer is an illness in which cells in the breasts grow out of control. In 2021, about 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer are foreseen to be diagnosed in women in the U.S.A.
Since treatment can be expensive, some women may have tried alternative methods to help with cancer symptoms.
Although alternative treatments for breast cancer may seem promising, the studies about their effectiveness are still inconclusive.
This article will highlight some breast cancer treatment options, including clinical advances that may soon translate into improved care.
Breast Cancer Treatment Options
The most common breast cancer treatments include:
- Surgery – a procedure that removes or repairs a part of the body
- Radiation – a method that uses a form of electromagnetic waves to treat and diagnose some types of cancer
- Chemotherapy – a treatment that uses substances to stop the growth of cancer cells by killing the cells or preventing them from dividing
- Hormone Therapy – a treatment that blocks, removes, or adds hormones
- Targeted Therapy – a procedure that uses drugs to identify and attack a particular cancer cell type
Scientists continue to discover and examine novel treatments, along with new combinations of existing medications.
Breast cancer is divided into subtypes that respond differently to various treatment methods.
The clinical subtypes of breast cancer are as follows:
- Hormone Receptor (HR) Positive
This subtype contains the estrogen and progesterone receptors which can be treated with hormone therapies.
- Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Two (HER2) Positive
This subtype has high amounts of the HER2 protein. HER2 is a gene that can affect breast cancer development. It helps manage how a healthy breast cell divides, grows, and repairs itself.
- Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
This breast cancer subtype doesn’t have estrogen and progesterone receptors. It also lacks a large amount of HER2/neu protein on its surface.
Immunotherapy for Breast Cancer
Immunotherapy is a form of treatment that takes advantage of a patient’s immune system to help kill cancer cells.
There are a few immunotherapy options for patients depending on the type of tumor they have.
This one targets the HER2 pathway and is approved along with chemotherapy for subsets of patients diagnosed with advanced breast cancer.
This one also targets the HER2 pathway and is approved for subsets of patients with HER2-positive breast cancer.
Sacituzumab Govitecan (Trodelvy®)
It’s an antibody-drug conjugate that targets the TROP-2 pathway. It’s approved for subsets of patients with triple-negative breast cancer.
It’s a monoclonal antibody that targets the HER2 pathway. It’s approved for subsets of patients with HER2-positive breast cancer.
Trastuzumab Deruxtecan (Enhertu®)
It’s an antibody-drug conjugate that targets the HER2 pathway. It delivers toxic drugs to tumors and is approved for subset patients with advanced, HER2-positive breast cancer.
Trastuzumab Emtansine (Kadcyla®)
It’s an antibody-drug conjugate that targets the HER2 pathway. It delivers toxic substances to tumors and is approved for subsets of patients with advanced, HER2-positive breast cancer.
Dostarlimab is a checkpoint inhibitor approved for subsets of patients with advanced breast cancer and DNA mismatch repair deficiency.
Mismatch repair deficiency describes cells with changes (mutations) in particular genes involved in correcting errors made when DNA is copied in a cell.
Generally, mismatch repair-deficient cells have multiple DNA mutations that may lead to cancer. Although the deficiency is most common in colorectal cancer, which occurs in the colon or the rectum, it may also be found in breast cancers.
Pembrolizumab is a checkpoint inhibitor approved in combination with chemotherapy for metastatic, PD-L1-positive triple-negative breast cancer patients.
It’s also approved for treatment before and after surgery and for subsets of patients with advanced breast cancer with;
- High microsatellite instability
- DNA mismatch repair deficiency
- High tumor mutational burden
Microsatellite instability describes cancer cells that contain a high number of changes (mutations) within microsatellites.
Knowing whether cancer is microsatellite instability-high may help physicians plan the best treatment for their patients.
Breast Cancer Prevention: Ways to Reduce Risk
Breast cancer prevention begins with a healthy habit and lifestyle. If women are concerned about developing such a condition, they may be wondering about the steps they can take to prevent the illness.
Although some risk factors like family history can’t be altered, there are lifestyle changes women can make to lower their risk.
Based on research, the general recommendation is to limit oneself to no more than one drink a day because even small amounts of alcoholic beverages may increase risk.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Women must reduce their calorie intake each day and gradually increase the amount of exercise to maintain a healthy weight.
Breastfeeding may play a role in breast cancer prevention. The longer a woman breastfeeds, the greater the protection she may receive.
Various advanced treatments are available for breast cancer patients. Still, women are advised to be vigilant about early detection.
If they find a new lump or skin changes on their breasts, they must consult their doctor immediately.
- What Is Breast Cancer?
- U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics
- Advances in Breast Cancer Research
- How Is Immunotherapy for Breast Cancer Changing the Outlook for Patients?https://www.cancerresearch.org/en-us/immunotherapy/cancer-types/breast-cancer
- Mismatch Repair Deficiency
- Microsatellite Instability-High Cancer
- Breast Cancer Prevention: How to Reduce Your Risk