Modern Treatments of Breast Cancer
Nowadays, mastectomy and chemo are not the only solutions to fight breast cancer. For some, alternative, yet officially recognized treatments prove more effective
What Are the Ways to Fight Breast Cancer?
Despite the raid development of medicine when it comes to oncology, many remain of the opinion there is no one effective treatment. Breast cancer typically hits women after 40, that’s why regular screening must be done after the age of 30 to enable timely prevention. As this type of tumor is particularly aggressive, the more treatment options are available, the better.
Conventional Ways to Approach Breast Cancer
Scientists around the world are constantly on the lookout for new ways to approach fighting it. And now, thanks to the development of genetic engineering, molecular biology and chemistry, many unique techniques, drugs and schemes have really appeared.
Among the usual ways to go about this disease, these methods can be listed:
- Surgery (namely, mastectomy)
- Radiation treatment
These are traditionally and effectively used for all sorts of tumors and can be combined and varied according to the individual diagnosis. However, these methods are also notorious for their adverse effects and the diminished quality of life that the patients experience. That’s why, scientists are always on the lookout for other ways to approach this.
Are There Any Alternative Therapies?
New scientific developments are aimed at creating methods for treating tumors without surgical intervention. This reduces the likelihood of metastases and is less traumatic for the patient. Moreover, it allows you to save organs and efficiency. A histological, genetic and molecular study of tumors are now done on an advanced level, which opens doors to new ways of seeing and treating breast cancer.
In this case, substances are introduced into the body that selectively accumulate in cancerous cells. As a result, the tissues gain more sensitivity to light. Then, external radiation is applied to the tumor. As a consequence to a sequence of reactions, the malignant cells die.
This therapy is good for the treatment of hormone-dependent tumors: ovarian, uterine, prostate, breast cancer, in particular. There are a couple of subtypes of drugs that are used for breast cancers, in particular:
- Drugs that destroy hormone receptors in the malignant cells
- Drugs that block these receptors
- Drugs that block the enzyme that aids estrogen production
Nolvadex, Letrozole, Anastorozole are just some names that are widely applied in these therapies, and the type of drug is prescribed according to the stage of cancer and comorbidities.
This is a kind of "freezing" of the tumor. For the procedure, liquid nitrogen is used, which, with the help of a cryoprobe (approximately -40F) freezes the cells in the area of tumor formation, which leads to the death of cells. It is most effectively used for superficial tumors of the skin, eye, cervix, anus, but is also applied in for the breast cancers. Since the probe should also be delivered to deeper lying foci, a surgical incision will be needed for this.
It is the most advanced cancer-control method. It aims to introduce changes in the genome of the tumor cell. At the same time, the area with malignant cells needs to be cut out, so the tissue can change into a healthy one. Alternatively, a self-destruction code can be embedded.
Gene delivery is carried out in two ways:
- Viruses that are capable of integrating their genome into the host cell are used in this case. Only instead of pathological virus DNA, a piece of code created by scientists is inserted into the virus. Herpes virus, measles, retrovirus are similarly modified. The peculiarity is that the particle is aimed only at infecting tumor cells and surpasses all the other cells on its way.
- Non-viral. Several techniques are used. For example, positively charged liposomes that contain the desired sites of peptides. The liposome is able to merge with the cell membrane, throwing its contents inward. Another option is electroporation, when using electrical impulses creates pores on the surface of the membranes. Cytotoxic genes enter the cell through such pores.
It is one of the subtypes of genetic-based therapy, as it is carried out using genetic engineering. The immune system is designed to protect the body from cancers on its own. However, unlike single cells, the defense system often cannot cope with a tumor. Cancer cells can even secrete special substances that reduce the formation of white blood cells, so the defense system becomes inactive. The method is aimed at overcoming this barrier. To do this, T-cells are extracted from the patient’s body and programmed to recognize specifically the structural units of a given tumor. For example, a receptor is implanted on the surface of a white blood cell to bind to a pathological cell. After returning to the body, white blood cells initiate an attack by the body of mutated particles and, subsequently, kill them. In addition, these lymphocytes multiply and leave their genetic memory so that, in the future, a relapse does not occur.