Imagine if you could do breast cancer screenings at home. Imagine if you could predict if a loved one’s breast cancer would recur or not. Imagine if one could detect breast cancer early and plan the treatment accordingly. The world of breast cancer isn’t as ambiguous or uncertain as it was a few years ago.A recent study published in the journal, Cancer shines, focusses on the positive results of improved breast cancer treatments since the 1990s. Here are five latest developments in breast cancer treatments that are making a difference to patients’ quality of life.
1. Precision treatments for breast cancer
Precision medicine or personalized therapies for breast cancer are those that are tailored to a specific patient to give the most effective treatment. It considers the genetic makeup or other markers in the cancer cells, blood, and tumor tissues and non-genetic factors such as lifestyle. From diagnosis, treatment to prevention and care, this approach includes the collection and analysis of blood or tumor tissue.
The advantages of precision medicine:
- Avoid unnecessary treatment
- The treatments involved in cancer such as radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and surgery could have side effects. With precision medicine, these side effects can be avoided.
- It makes it easier to identify and involve specific medical experts depending on the need of the patient as opposed to a general medical expert or oncologist.
2. AI and data analytics for breast cancer treatment
To tackle the numerous problems related to breast cancer such as late diagnosis, over-treatment, unaffordable treatments, and inaccessibility of treatment options, multiple companies have been researching and developing different solutions. Employing different technologies ranging from artificial intelligence and machine learning, the development of tech-based innovation for breast cancer has rapidly advanced in recent years.
For example, mammography is no longer the screening test that works for all. Tests such as digital breast tomosynthesis, whole-breast ultrasound, and AI-powered are more accessible, personalized, and affordable screening methods. Highly capable 3D mammography machines are simplifying early detection and breast cancer recurrence prediction tests and are helping patients to bypass chemotherapy altogether.
3. Tests that predict breast cancer recurrence
Breast cancer isn’t the same for each patient. There are different kinds of breast cancers, and they respond differently to different treatments. For example, oncologists are now planning treatments for patients based on their specific breast cancer conditions. These treatment decisions are based on whether they are HER2-positive, lymph node-positive, post or pre-menopausal, and other such factors.
Precision treatments are also based on the groups that different patients belong to, such as HER2-positive, lymph node-positive, post or pre-menopausal, and other such groups. Today, all women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer do not need chemotherapy. A few years ago, almost 95% of patients would definitely undergo chemotherapy as a measure to keep cancer away post-surgery.
OncoStem’s CanAssist Breast is a prognostic test that classifies the patients as ‘low-risk’ or ‘high-risk’ based on the patient’s breast cancer recurrence risk over five years.
Here’s how the test works:
- Once the tumor is removed by surgery, it is essential to determine if the patient has cancer recurrence chances.
- Upon taking the CanAssist Breast test, the diagnosis is considered in deciding the treatment plan for the patient. If the patient is categorized as low-risk, she can avoid chemotherapy.
- Apart from the test results, the oncologists consider other factors such as age, history, lifestyle, tumor size, and grade to plan the treatment.
4. The widespread reach of breast cancer screenings and treatments
Experts have noted peculiar observations in breast cancer occurrences in India. There is an increased incidence in younger age groups in rural and urban areas. With the number of breast cancer occurrences consistently on the rise, awareness about breast cancer recurrence risk is a must.
Up until a few years back, a large number of women in the rural areas suffered due to non-diagnostics and lack of facilities for cancer diagnosis and care in these regions. However, owing to the fact that the AI and tech-based screenings and treatments do not involve complex logistics or the need of physical examination, the availability of tests and medicines is penetrating deeper in rural and underserved regions, too.
These are some novel and innovative approaches in tests and treatments over the last few years:
Telemedicine: An unmanned telemedicine clinic where patients come face-to-face with medical experts from across the country. The process is carried out online that allows doctors and patients to see each other virtually.
Data analytics in medicine: A number of tests only require a small sample tissue from the cancer tumor to read, study, and access the cancer condition of the patients. These samples can be easily and safely couriered from any part of the country in just a few days enabling patients from unserved regions to access medical help.
India has the lowest doctor-patient ratio in the world. In such a scenario, these machine-based tests are helping reach a larger number of patients.
5. More affordable tests and treatments
For years, people have associated the word ‘cancer’ with being an expensive disease. Even though characterized as ‘low-cost’ by global standards, it still remains unaffordable for the majority of the population.
With new, advanced, improved, and innovative breast cancer treatments, the problem is being tackled by several cancer treatment institutes and startups. With continued research and development, startups are striving to make the tests even cheaper and affordable for a large segment of the population.
The need for the hour is to spread awareness about these options among patients and their loved ones.
Stay informed and spread the word!