3 Promising Breakthroughs In the Battle Against Breast Cancer
While mammograms can detect breast cancer once it has developed, a new blood test may be able to predict—with over 80 percent accuracy—whether a woman will develop breast cancer within two to five years. By comparing blood samples from women who did develop the disease to those who didn't, a team of Danish researchers was able to spot a chemical pattern that may serve as a marker of future tumors.
The Vegan Solution
Recent research from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health suggests that a diet low in methionine (an amino acid abundant in meat, fish and some nuts, but generally low in fruits and veggies) may be just what the doctor ordered for patients with triple-negative breast cancer—a form of the disease that doesn't respond to targeted therapies and is therefore one of the toughest to treat. In the absence of methionine, breast cancer cells become more susceptible to a certain type of targeted treatment and thus easier to kill.
A Better RX
A new report in The Lancet revealed that drugs normally used to treat bone loss could also reduce the number of breast cancer deaths in mostmenopausal women. Those who took the drugs had a 28 percent lower rate of cancer metastasis to the bones, and 18 percent lower overall breast cancer mortality in the ten years after diagnosis.
Be a Breast Cancer Hero
There are now so many ways you can support breast cancer awareness that it's hard to know where to put your money. These organizations are making a big impact, helping patients and survivors from diagnosis to treatment.
Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force
In 1992, Congress passed the Mammography Quality Standards Act to ensure that hospitals and clinics meet certain benchmarks. But some experts say the law doesn't go far enough when it comes to assessing quality of care. Indeed, a 2014 study that looked at a sample of 52 mammography facilities in the Chicago area found that only 14 percent of those not accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer met the study's standard for early-stage detection. The task force is lobbying for better regulation; help them continue the fight by donating at ChicagoBreastCancer.org.
Susan G. Komen
Public and community hospitals don't always offer programs that pair patients with advocates (oftentimes nurses) who can guide them through doctors' appointments. Susan G. Komen distributes grants to navigation services all across the country. You can support its work at Komen.org/Donate.
The Pink Fund
In addition to costly testing and treatments, the financial burden of breast cancer includes making ends meet, especially for patients who have to take an extended leave from work. To lend a hand, consider giving to a breast cancer financial assistance program in your area. Living Beyond Breast Cancer, for example, covers costs, to the tune of about $160,000 per year, for Philadelphia-area women who are struggling to cover rent and other expenses during or after cancer treatment. Can't find a local group? The Pink Fund provides financial help to women nationwide.