A recent Canadian study shows that breast cancer cases were 50% less recurrent in the early 2000 than they were in the ’80s. In the present days, the figures might be even more optimistic owing to the advanced screening techniques, methods of prevention, and improved medication.
The study used data from 7,178 Canadian women diagnosed with stage I to stage III breast cancer who sought treatment. Two groups were analyzed and later compared – one group treated between 1986 and 1992 (C1 group) and another one treated for breast cancer between 2004 and 2008 (C2 group). Each group had 3.589 female patients.
A previous research published in the ’90s revealed that women who had estrogen-receptor (ER) positive breast cancer, a type of cancer caused by the presence of a protein that feeds on a female hormone called estrogen, were more likely to be diagnosed with cancer on a later date. While breast cancer patients whose disease hadn’t been triggered by estrogen were at high risk only in the first 5 years after the treatment.
“Although current treatments are more effective, we still see late relapses in patients with ER-positive tumors and an early peak of recurrence in patients with ER-negative cancers,”
So, Dr Karen Gelmon, lead author of the Canadian study, and her team chose to also monitor the two groups’ levels of estrogen receptor and HER2 molecule. HER2 molecule helps the cancer cells multiply, thus making cancerous tumors to evolve faster than tumors lacking this type of molecule.
Scientists who said breast cancer rates dropped by half found that cancer medication has improved in the last 24 years because cancer drugs were aimed at eliminating HER2 molecules from cancer cells, thus leading to a lower breast cancer occurrence. Dr Gelmon’s team
Researchers say breast cancer rate will continue to drop in our century due to scientific advancements in early diagnosis, such as mammographies.
Early detection is very important since 40% of women have been diagnosed with dense breast tissue. While the most notable risk groups are women ranging from 40 to 49, more than 50% of women older than 50 have dense breasts.
Patients diagnosed with dense breasts have a 4 to 6 times more chance of breast cancer.
Also, these women have a 33% chance of not having their cancer diagnosed using a mammogram, since the mammographic sensitivity gets lower on a dense breast.
Luckily, FDA has recently approved a new 3-D ultrasound diagnosis device, Automated Breast Ultrasound System (ABUS) that increases the chances to spot a cancer within dense breast tissue by 35.7%.