According to the Breast Cancer Organization, one in every eight American women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. This year alone, 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer is expected to be diagnosed, alongside 61,000 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer.
Despite these dire statistics, it cannot be denied that being diagnosed with breast cancer is no longer as life-threatening as it was before. Mortality rates for the disease have been decreasing since 1989, while incidence rates have started decreasing in 2000.
This decrease in incidence and mortality rates are often attributed to early screening and medical advancements, particularly breast cancer awareness. Women at risk of getting the disease are being tested earlier, so they can reduce the effect breast cancer may have on them. Meanwhile, many women are routinely having themselves checked. In fact, many celebrities and cancer survivors have credited annual mammogram screenings and self-testing as the catalyst that helped bring their cancer to light at an early stage.
To further illustrate this point, Vicki Warren, an Oklahoma-based woman, has apparently lived with metastatic breast cancer or stage 4 breast cancer, for 25 years. Fox4KC reports how Warren had 12 radiations prior to the interview and has continued to work as a hair stylist until her cancer came back. Warren attributes her survival to her hardheadedness as well as the advancements in treatments.
Metastatic breast cancer is usually the point where patients are expected to have a shorter life expectancy, as the cancer has already spread to other parts of the body, aside from the organ where it originated. It is oftentimes more difficult to curb a cancer that has already spread. In Warren’s case, her cancer is all over her body, including her brain.
Warren’s very inspiring story paved the way for more experts to look at the quality of life of patients with metastatic breast cancer, and study how they can be improved. She became a model for how to effectively manage the effects of breast cancer.
More individualized, personalized care
Warren’s story inspired many to look at the way they handle breast cancer. Some offers personalized treatments that pair the latest innovations in the medical industry with treatments that take care of the patient’s well-being, such as by offering alternative treatments like yoga, massages, and exercise physiology. Others are offering hormone-based therapies, as well as matching patients with the most efficient drug for their case. The one-sized fits all approach that was in practice before is now a thing of the past, as physicians are more focused on improving the quality of life of patients. This means less chemotherapy and radiation, less surgery, and fewer side effects. Patients are therefore able to recover better and with less pain than what was the norm in the past.
With many researches and studies about breast cancer still underway, the future is very bright for those who are suffering from breast cancer. In the future, it may be possible to turn breast cancer from a deadly disease to a chronic, albeit difficult, one.