Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Advances in Breast Cancer:

Globally, breast cancer remains the most frequently diagnosed cancer and a leading cause of cancer death in women. Affecting approximately 1 in 8 women.

Most patients will be diagnosed with either early stage or locally advanced disease at initial diagnosis, with less than 10% of Breast cancers being diagnosed with Stage IV disease at initial presentation.

For our early or locally advanced breast cancer cases, Surgery remains the backbone of treatment, We now have data that shows that Breast conserving Surgery (Lumpectomy with Radiation) is comparable to Mastectomy.

There are however patients who will not be candidate for Lumpectomy such as those who have had prior radiation, those with multi centric disease, pregnancy, large tumor size, those with repeated positive margins after lumpectomy.

“Based on the research, 70% of our patients with stage one and two breast cancer will not need chemotherapy,” explained Nkeiru Okoye, MD, medical hematologist and oncologist with Dayton Physicians Network.

In Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), which make up to 15% of Breast cancers, Systemic chemotherapy remains the mainstay of treatment, but there have been advances with use of Immunotherapy, PARP inhibitors for the BRCA mutated TNBC and use of antibody-drug conjugates.

“Dayton Physicians Network’s patients are given a level of confidence that treatment programs are based on data that has been validated by cutting-edge research,” noted Dr. Okoye. “The patient can rest assured that they are receiving world-class care, and that the doctors will sit down and talk about the information that supports the treatment plan.”

Cancer screenings during a Pandemic

Early detection is an important component of Breast Cancer treatment. A Report from AACR Feb 2021 showed that over 10, million cancer screenings were missed during the first few months of the Pandemic which led to delays in diagnosis and might ultimately affect survival.

The Pandemic has certainly show us the flaws in our screening programs and has opened new opportunities for us to improve on these screening programs. Allowing for us to improve ways of contacting patients in a pandemic, ability to educate patient via other means than by Office visits alone (video conferencing) etc.

Screening tests available to all of us include Annual Mammograms, annual low dose CT chest for the at-risk smoking/ex-smoker population, Colonoscopy or Cologuard testing, Cervical cancer screening. Screening for Prostate cancer/Ovarian cancer/bladder cancer and Oral cancer is also available for certain at-risk groups.

One in 4 cancers will be related to a preventable cause such as Tobacco abuse/Obesity/dietary choices/Physical inactivity/Excessive exposure to the sun/Certain vaccine preventable Cancers.

Lastly, if we all remember that up to approximately 30-40% of all cancers can be prevented by lifestyle and dietary modifications, it can help inspire us to become more involved, more invested in being more functional and help inform the types and quality of food we put in our bodies.

Supporting Cancer Patients on their Journey:

The importance of providing Psychosocial, emotional, and occasionally financial support to patients and caregivers on the cancer journey has now become component of the care of our patients.

Cancer programs have incorporated support groups, educational talks, nutrition and exercise classes into the care of the cancer patient. Through resources available from the American Cancer society, groups like the Leukemia Lymphoma society and grants available through various Charities, we are able to provide needed support for our patients.

The Palliative care team has also now become an integral part of the care of the Stage IV cancer patient with multiple co-morbidities that may be affecting quality of life, they help by assisting with symptoms control throughout the cancer journey.

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