Medical Research Reveals New and Better Options For Breast Cancer Treatment

Medical Research Reveals New and Better Options For Breast Cancer Treatment

By Shehwar Ali

Just as breast cancer is a common malignancy these days, extensive research in this domain has also become a common phenomenon. Traditionally, surgery and radiation therapy were the only two treatment options available to patients suffering from breast cancer. The decision as to which treatment option ought to be deployed depended upon the type and stage of cancer. These two options were generally termed as ‘local therapies’ since the rest of the body stayed unaffected as a consequence of these treatments.

However, the scientific avalanche of the 21st century has brought a revolution in health sciences and now there is a myriad of other options and systemic treatments available, which can be considered for treating breast cancer. Hormone therapy, targeted therapy and chemotherapy come under the broader umbrella term of ‘systemic therapies’.

In this article, we will be focusing primarily on innovations in targeted therapy drugs and bone-directed therapy.

How Can Target Therapy Target Breast Cancer?

Target therapy drugs focus on the gene changes and mutations in cancer cells which prompt the spread as well as growth of these cells. These drugs can be grouped according to their function and target as follows:

– Drugs that specifically target HER2, a protein that promotes the growth of breast cancer cells.

– Drugs that work as a catalyst for hormone therapy and enable it to perform better.

– PARP inhibitors; these inhibitor drugs are very effective in battling cancers which are a consequence of BRCA mutations. During the early clinical trials of PARP inhibitors, it was observed that they can fight breast cancers as well.

– Anti-angiogenic drugs; many anti-angiogenic drugs are being subjected to clinical trials these days. In order to understand how these drugs function, it is important to understand the process of angiogenesis. Cancer cells can only grow when they have an adequate blood supply. This blood supply can only be made possible if blood vessels are developed. Therefore, this process of development of blood vessels is termed as angiogenesis. Anti-angiogenic drugs target this very development.

How Can Bone-Directed Treatment Battle Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer tends to be lethal if it penetrates the bones. Hence, innovations in cancer treatment are focusing on preventing and treating this spread of breast cancer to the bones. Some bone-directed treatment drugs include bisphosphonates. These drugs such as Aredia, Xgeva and Zometa help in the treatment of bone fractures which are a consequence of metastatic breast cancer. Studies also indicate that some of these drugs have also proven to be helpful in enhancing the performance of hormone and chemotherapy. There is still some controversy as to whether these drugs ought to be a part of early stage breast cancer treatment or not. Therefore, they are still under study and being subjected to clinical trials.


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