Treatment for breast cancer is progressing ever forward, with new options – from small tweaks that modify existing regimens to the development of promising investigational drugs – routinely making their way into the oncologist’s toolbox. As a result of this evolution, personalized medicine has become central to breast cancer treatment.
This means not only that individual genetics are taken into account, but also that patient preference has become a vitally important determining factor in how treatments are selected. As a result, patients have choices, but also a greater responsibility to learn about the therapies that are available, and how those treatments might affect them. Our goal in this special issue of CURE is to make sure our readers have that information, regardless of their breast cancer subtype or stage of disease.
As you’ll see in these pages, the focus on patient preference holds true throughout all stages of screening and treatment for breast cancer.
We discuss the need for women at average risk of developing breast cancer to know the pros and cons associated with screening mammograms — and for women worried about hereditary breast cancer to carefully weigh their decisions about genetic testing and preventive treatment. Most women with breast cancer undergo surgery, and our article on this topic delves into the choices for those with unilateral disease – lumpectomy or mastectomy. We also detail how medical oncologists can add patient preference into the mix, honing the newest therapies and regimens to match the genetics and wishes of specific groups, and switching from one treatment to another when those with metastatic disease experience side effects that jeopardize their quality of life. Radiation, too, can be tailored, we report – for instance, increasing the dose and cutting down the length of treatment time can make the process more convenient for patients.
We hope this issue of CURE helps to familiarize you with a comprehensive array of newer and older therapies for various subtypes and stages of breast cancer, their potential benefits and side effects, and why they may or may not make sense as part of your treatment plan. If our in-depth articles on these topics give you the information you need to discuss potentially beneficial treatment plans with your oncologist, or serve as a jumping-off point that helps you determine which techniques to research further on your own, then CURE has lived up to its mission of providing guidance, education and inspiration to those experiencing cancer. As always, thank you for reading.
Mike Hennessy, Sr
Chairman and CEO