Gentler surgery, irradiation during the surgery and medications, the cancer of the breast exactly where he is sensitive, improve the prognosis. FOCUS Online spoke with the President of the German cancer society on innovations in breast cancer therapy.
Every eighth woman must expect to be for once in your life diagnosed with breast cancer face. Breast cancer, with nearly 80,000 new cases per year the most common cancer in women. As worrying as these Figures are, however, also The survival time and the chances of a cure for breast cancer have improved significantly in recent years.
The biology of breast cancer reveal
“This is due to the fact that breast cancer is always discovered in the past,” says Olaf Ortmann, President of the German cancer society. In addition, the type of breast cancer is being researched more intensively: Is the breast cancer hormone-sensitive, how aggressive he is, what does his DNA, is it hereditary?
The biology of breast cancer can differ substantially. Drugs do not have the same effect, therefore, for each patient, but must be selected according to the molecular characteristics of the disease.
Based on these findings, the treatment of breast cancer has made tremendous progress, and although the three common methods of treatment are combined in the case of breast cancer often:
Surgery for breast cancer less radical
Onerous procedures, such as mastectomy (Amputation) and removal of the lymph nodes in the armpit to avoid the disease affected women and Doctors today. “The goal is to operate on the breast-holding,” says oncologist Olaf Ortmann. “In doing so in the last few years, with less radical Operation is equal to good healing chances or better chances of recovery than with the radical procedure.” Currently, only 20 percent of the cancer in the affected breast, patients are removed, the sooner the affected more than half of the affected women.
Today many women can be offered to the lymph nodes already in the process of the so-called Guardians of biopsy instead of an extensive lymph node removal. In a few years, it may be also possible that in the absence of an indication for a lymph node infection the appropriate armpit not treated surgically. The removal of the lymph nodes in this area is often associated with various problems, such as lymphedema.
Irradiation is more effective
After breast-conserving surgery will usually destroy a radiation therapy, the remaining cancer cells. In this treatment method, there are three new products:
Chemotherapy must not be in any case
Usually the breast cancer therapy of the triad of surgery, radiation and drug treatment. If chemotherapy is required, often combined with various cytotoxic drugs with each other, to meet the cancer in its different stages of development. The therapy by Infusion, but sometimes also in the form of tablets is possible.
In many cases, can be dispensed with, the treatment with cytostatics, such as, if the cancer is in a very early stage or if he has certain biological characteristics that make it vulnerable to attack by other drugs. These are, for example, anti-hormonal drugs.
Improved anti-hormonal therapy with new agents
Breast cancer is often hormone sensitive, which means it has receptors for Estrogen or progesterone. These hormones fire up, therefore, growth. You will be blocked, slowed down the tumor growth. This is achieved with an anti-hormonal drugs such as aromatase inhibitors. “By several anti-hormonal therapies, we consecutively women with metastatic Breast cancer often over long periods of time, very few side-effects successfully treated,” says Olaf Ortmann.
Targeted therapy with new drugs, also in the case of advanced breast cancer
In the case of other forms of breast cancer cells have HER2 receptors. The abbreviation stands for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2. HER2 receptors are binding sites for growth factors, which lead to the cancer cells which are rapidly dividing. Here, oncologists antibodies, which block these receptors, such as the well-known Trastuzumab and a newer drug, Pertuzumab.
“It’s promising, the relatively new CDK4 inhibitor (cyclin-dependent kinases),” says the cancer specialist. These are the inhibitors, the cell cycle of the tumor cell. They are suitable for combined treatment with anti-hormonal substances of advanced, meta-annotated breast cancer, the hormone-sensitive.
Gentler than chemotherapy
A particularly positive aspect of these new cancer drugs is that they cause less side-effects than chemotherapy.
Immunotherapy with Checkpoint inhibitors, the disease in other common cancers such as cancer of the skin is increasingly playing a role, is suitable for most forms of breast cancer (up to now) by the way even less. Only for the very rare but aggressive triple-negative breast cancer (no receptors for Estrogen, progesterone and HER-2) seems to be the immune therapy to be an Option.
Chances of cure is over 90 percent
All of these innovations, the forecast is improving for cancer of the breast drastically. “In all of the stages, the chance of Survival after ten years, an average of 80 per cent,” says Olaf Ortmann. Breast cancer is diagnosed at an early stage and he is still under two centimeters small, life is even more than 90 percent of patients after 15 years.
Characteristics of breast cancer detection and the proper treatment to select
The treatment of breast cancer is so effective: gentler for the patient, but more effective against the cancer cells. “The biology of this heterogeneous disease is playing an increasingly important role”, says the oncologist. To match the molecular characteristics of the tumor, the Doctors determine an individual therapy schedule for the patient.
Ideally, it is lifted in a the by the German cancer society certified breast cancer centres. Here, physicians work in an interdisciplinary Hand-in-Hand. New findings from research and innovative therapies are rapidly implemented and for each patient. In the OncoMap of the German cancer society, you can find breast cancer centers in your area.