By: Dr. Karthik Kumar, MBBS
Targeted therapies are a newer form of breast cancer treatment. They can be used alone or along with other therapies. Targeted therapies directly target cancer cells or specific processes that contribute to the growth of cancer cells. Target therapy often has fewer side effects.
- Monoclonal antibodies: They are immune systems proteins made in the laboratory to treat many diseases, including cancer. As a cancer treatment, these antibodies can attach to specific target proteins on cancer cells or other cells that may help cancer cells grow. The antibodies then kill the cancer cells, block their growth, or keep them from spreading. Monoclonal antibodies are given by infusion (intravenous drip). They may be used alone or to carry drugs, toxins, or radioactive material directly to cancer cells. Monoclonal antibodies may be used in combination with other therapies.
- Tyrosine kinase inhibitors: These treatment block signals needed for tumors to grow. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors may be used with other anticancer drugs as adjuvant therapy.
- Cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors: This treatment blocks proteins called cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs), which cause the growth of cancer cells. Combining CDK4/6 inhibitors with hormone therapy may be effective in treating advanced breast cancer.
- Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitors: This treatment blocks a protein called mTOR, which may keep cancer cells from growing and prevent the growth of new blood vessels that tumors need to grow.
- Poly ADP ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitors: This treatment blocks DNA repair and may cause cancer cells to die.
- Immunotherapy: Medications such as Tecentriq (atezolizumab) help your immune system to recognize and fight cancer.
What are the treatment options for breast cancer?
Depending on the type and stage of cancer, treatments can vary. However, there are some common practices doctors and specialists use to combat breast cancer:
- Lumpectomy: It is when the doctor removes the tumor while leaving the breast intact.
- Mastectomy: It is when the doctor surgically removes all the breast tissues including the tumor and connecting tissue. Depending upon the type of mastectomy, the lymph nodes and muscles may be removed with the breast.
- Chemotherapy: It is the most common cancer treatment, and it involves the use of anticancer drugs. These drugs interfere with the cells’ ability to reproduce.
- Radiation: It uses X-rays to treat cancer directly.
- Hormone and targeted therapy: They can be used when either genes or hormones play a part in the cancer’s growth.
What are the four types of breast cancer?
Breast cancer usually begins either in glands that make milk (called lobular carcinoma) or the ducts that carry it to the nipple (called ductal carcinoma). The cancer may grow and invade other areas around the breast, such as the skin or chest wall. Different types of breast cancer grow and spread at different rates.
There are several types of breast cancer, and they are broken into two main categories: “invasive” and “noninvasive” (in situ). These two categories are used to describe the most common types of breast cancer, which include:
- Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS): DCIS is a noninvasive condition. With DCIS, the cancer cells are confined to the ducts in the breasts and haven’t invaded the surrounding breast tissue.
- Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS): LCIS is cancer that grows in the milk-producing glands of the breasts. Like DCIS, the cancer cells don’t invade the surrounding tissue.
- Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC): It is the most common type of breast cancer. This type of breast cancer begins in your breast’s milk ducts and then invade nearby tissue in the breasts. Once the breast cancer has spread to the tissue outside the milk ducts, it can begin to spread to other nearby organs and tissue.
- Invasive lobular carcinoma: It first develops in the breast’s tubes and invades the nearby tissues.
Apart from the above four types, below are a few more types of breast cancer:
- Paget disease of the nipples: This type of breast cancer begins in the ducts of the nipples, but as it grows, it begins to affect the skin and area of the nipples.
- Phyllodes tumor: This is a very rare type of breast cancer that grows in the connective tissue of the breasts. Most of these tumors are benign, but some are cancerous.
- Angiosarcoma: This cancer grows on the blood and lymph vessels in the breasts.
What is the survival rate of breast cancer?
The 5-year survival rate is predicted to be 90%, which means that 90 out of 100 people diagnosed with breast cancer are likely to live at least five years after their diagnosis. It does not mean an individual will die after five years; it means that a person may live a minimum for five years and more.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.