Successes and Strides in Breast Cancer Research

The five-year survival rate for women with breast cancer has steadily increased in the last twenty years to nearly 100 percent for stage 0 and stage 1 patients (Cancer.org). Important studies, fund-raising, and support from survivors and families have significantly impacted the outlook for this disease—and have pushed research to new heights.

  • Researchers have sped up computerized imaging to identify tumors more quickly, making prognosis and treatment faster. (USC)
  • Advancements in genetic testing have made diagnoses and identifying risk factors for breast cancer much more reliable. (American Cancer Society)
  • Successful studies in immunotherapy and other medications are giving patients many more options for treatment outside of chemotherapy. (Cancer Research Institute)
  • There are more than three million breast cancer survivors living in the US, because of increased awareness and improved research. (American Cancer Society)
  • Improved awareness and support for breast cancer survivors and families have dramatically enhanced quality of life after diagnosis. (Breastcancer.org)
  • The FDA continues to approve medication that not only combat growth of the disease, but also reduce side effects of treatment. (National Cancer Institute

A Guide to Genetic Testing

The thought of understanding your breast and ovarian cancer risk can be both comforting and frightening, but when it comes to your health, it’s best to be in the know. Here’s a look at genetic testing, including questions to help you decide whether you should consider getting it done.

Things to remember:

  • Genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancers generally looks at the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.
  • A mutation in these genes can increase your risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers.
  • Tests involve giving a blood or saliva sample and it can take a few weeks to yield results.
  • A genetic test is currently the most effective way to determine risk of hereditary cancer.

Should you get tested?

Consult your doctor to determine whether BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic testing is right for you. There are many factors a person should consider when making this decision—these are just a few questions related to genetic testing and risk factors. For a more comprehensive list of questions, visit a site like mayoclinic.org and consult your doctor.

  • Do you have a personal history of breast cancer diagnosed before age 50?
  • Do you have a family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer?
  • Has a relative tested positive for a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes?