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Exploring New Advances In Breast Cancer Care

Colleen M. Darnell, MD and Elizabeth H. Levick, MD, Blogs, Diseases, For Physicians, 0 comments
October 29, 2015


Nearly 232,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in 2015. Today, these women often have a better prognosis and outcome due to the advancements in detection, treatment, and support.

The Importance of Breast Cancer Screening

The American Cancer Society recently released new breast cancer screening guidelines for women at average risk of developing the disease. The new guideline recommends that a woman at average risk for breast cancer should begin annual mammography at age 45, and at age 55 should transition to screening every two years. Women should have the opportunity to begin screening as early as age 40, and to continue screening every year through age 55 depending on their personal values and preferences.

The ACS has shared these resources for providers regarding the newest guidelines:

Digital mammography continues to be an effective tool in safely and effectively detecting breast cancer. Research continues to demonstrate digital mammograms effectiveness at detecting breast cancer in women who are pre-menopausal, perimenopausal, under the age 50, or have dense breast tissue.

Tomosynthesis, or 3D mammography, are relatively new screening tools still being researched and reviewed. Findings from an initial study last year indicated that tomosynthesis, combined with digital mammography, may result in an increased cancer detection rate (1.2 percent) and decreased recall rate (1.5 percent), compared to digital mammography alone.

Advances in Medical Oncology

Women diagnosed with HER2-positive cancer continue to have improved prognosis. Researchers found women, with HER2-positive cancer that had spread to other parts of the body and treated with a pertuzumab, trastuzumab, and chemotherapy, lived 15.7 months longer than women with trastuzumab and chemotherapy. Women treated with the combination therapies had a median overall survival of 56.5 months, compared to 40.8 months for women treated with trastuzumab and chemotherapy.

The role of tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors continues to be widely researched in their treatment of ER+ breast cancer. A study published this month in The Lancet found aromatase inhibitors reduced recurrence of early stage cancer by approximately 30 percent compared to tamoxifen, and reduced 10-year mortality rates by approximately 15 percent compared to 5 years of tamoxifen. We are currently participating in several clinical studies dedicated to aromatase inhibitors at OHC.

New Progress in Radiation Oncology

Research indicates hypofraction radiation therapy is associated with less toxicity and a better quality of life, compared to conventional fraction radiation therapy. Study participants who received hypofraction experienced less acute toxicity during treatment and expressed fewer side effects at the six-month follow-up, such as fatigue, compared to participants who received the conventional fraction therapy.

Today, deep inspiration breath hold is another method which helps protect against radiation-induced cardiotoxicity in patients with left-sided breast cancer.

Clinical Research in Breast Cancer

Molecular profiling of tumor genes which offers targeted treatment is presently offered at OHC through our research department. Targeted therapies have revolutionized how we treat many cancers and offer patients a personalized approach to their specific cancer type. To learn more about OHC breast cancer clinical trials, please contact Dr. Pat Ward at pward@ohcare.com or Nicole Given at ngiven@ohcare.com.

Current breast cancer-related clinical trials at OHC can be found here.

Genetic Counseling

While a family history of breast cancer may increase the risk, it’s important to note that only 5 to 10 percent of all breast cancers are the result of inherited genetic factors. Documenting maternal and paternal cancer history remains important for all types of cancer.

A Team Approach for the Best Outcomes

As a primary care physician, you know your patient best. OHC is a collaborative team and recent nationally accredited oncology medical home practice. We want our patients and referring physicians to know we will work together to coordinate the cancer journey and will work diligently to achieve the best health outcomes.

OHC welcomes the opportunity to provide first or second opinions for patients and honors the relationship patients have with their referring physician.


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