Latest Breakthroughs in Breast Cancer Treatment

HERBS FOR HEALTH MANAGEMENT

Herbs are a foundational root in medicine and health treatments, dating back thousands of years throughout every culture around the world. Modern Western herbalism comes from ancient Egypt. The Greeks developed a comprehensive philosophy of herbal medicine by 100 BCE and the Romans built upon it to create a variety of medical practices, some of which are still used today.

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ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE IMPACTS PSYCHOLOGICAL HARDINESS

Psychological hardiness is an individual’s resistance to stress, anxiety and depression. It includes the ability to withstand grief and accept the loss of loved ones. Alternative medicine is a more popular term for health and wellness therapies that have typically not been part of conventional Western medical approaches but are often used along with conventional medicinal protocols.  Coping and dealing with stress in a positive manner play a major role in maintaining the balance needed for health and well-being.

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ALTERNATIVE REMEDIES FOR ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION

Interest in complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM) is increasing as consumers and health care professionals search for additional ways to treat anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders. Some of these remedies include:

St. John’s Wort.  More than 30 studies show it to be effective for treatment of mild forms of depression,…

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Last February, the FDA approved the drug Palbociclub. When used with the breast cancer drug Letrozole in trials, the combination stopped cancer progression in postmenopausal women with a treatable but incurable type of chronic breast cancer (ER-positive, HER2-negative advanced breast cancer) for an average of 20.2 months, about double the time with just Letrozole alone.


Genetics

Last May, researchers at Cambridge Research Institute found 93 genes whose mutations convert a normal breast cell into a cancer cell. They shared their findings with universities, pharmaceuticals and biotech companies to start developing new drugs. Researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the European Bioinformatics Institute sequenced the genomes of breast cancer genes. They found five additional genes associated with breast cancer and 13 new mutational signatures that influence tumor development. This shows new causes for cancer and explains why the disease affects certain individuals. It also allows for precision medication individualized for each patient. 


Genes also play a role in whether chemotherapy will work for a patient. Now there is a test to determine this. The Oncotype Dx test analyzes 21 genes in the tumor to see if the cancer is likely to recur and to determine whether chemotherapy will be effective. This will spare thousands of women from undergoing unnecessary chemotherapy. The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine last September.

There are an estimated 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States, a testament to the more than 25-year decline in mortality, according to the American Cancer Society. Still, 231,000 women will be diagnosed with the disease this year, and about 40,000 will die. Fortunately, there have been some exciting breakthroughs in breast cancer detection and treatment recently.


Blood Tests

Last fall, international researchers discovered isotopes carbon-13 and nitrogen-15 in certain proportions in a tissue sample can reveal the presence of cancer. This means doctors may be able to detect breast cancer with a blood test in a few years, according to lead researcher Guilaume Tcherkez. The results were published in the journal Nature. The current “best method” of detection – mammograms – are inaccurate 16 percent of the time, which results in misdiagnoses and false positives. A breast cancer blood test is already in development in France. In the United States, gene-sequencing company Illumina is working on a liquid cancer biopsy that can detect any cancer, enabling early detection. Illumina expects the product to be on the market in three years.


Drugs

Triple-negative breast tumors are aggressive, fast-growing cancers more common in women under 40. They kill a quarter of patients within

LATEST BREAKTHROUGHS IN BREAST CANCER TREATMENT

ANGELA S. HOOVER

Angela is a staff writer for Health & Wellness magazine.

more articles by Angela s. hoover

five years. The drug PIM-1 inhibitor, already in trials for fighting leukemia, attacks cancer cells resistant to chemotherapy. PIM-1 is a molecule found in leukemia patients. Scientists at King's College, London, and the Institute of Cancer Research found the PIM-1 molecule helps triple negative breast cancer cells survive by telling the cancerous cells to ignore “death signals” from toxic chemo drugs. The scientists claim giving the PIM-1 inhibitor can make cancerous cells vulnerable to chemo again. The research findings, funded by the charity Breast Cancer Now, were published in the journal Nature.


Other research found the combination of two cancer drugs, trastuzumab (Herceptic) and lapatinub (Tyverb), eliminated all signs of cancer in 11 percent of patients in 11 days. In 17 percent of the cases, the drug combination caused the tumors to shrink so significantly that chemotherapy was not warranted. The results from this combination further uncovered the role and function of the HER2 protein that halts the growth of a certain type of tumor in one out of 10 breast cancers, according to Science Daily. Better understanding of the HER2 protein revealed the RAS protein is responsible for reactivating HER2. The combination acts as a