Breast Cancer Research

Breast Cancer Research on Treatment Methods

Scientists involved in researching breast cancer are studying many types of treatment and their combinations, including:
  • Surgery: Different types of surgery are being combined with other treatments.
  • Radiation therapy: Doctors are studying whether radiation therapy can be used instead of surgery to treat cancer in lymph nodes. In these research studies, they are looking at the effectiveness of applying radiation therapy to a larger area around the breast. In women with early breast cancer, doctors are studying whether directing radiation therapy to a smaller part of the breast may be helpful.
  • Chemotherapy: Scientists involved in chemotherapy-related breast cancer research are testing new anticancer drugs and doses. They are working with drugs and combinations of drugs. They are looking at new drug combinations before surgery. These researchers are also studying new ways of combining chemotherapy with hormone therapy or radiation therapy.
  • Hormone therapy: Researchers are testing several types of hormone therapy, including aromatase inhibitors.
  • Biological therapy: New biological treatments also are being studied. For example, researchers are studying cancer vaccines that may help the immune system kill cancer cells.
In addition, researchers are looking at ways to lessen the side effects from treatment, such as lymphedema after surgery. They are looking at ways to reduce pain and improve quality of life. One method under study is sentinel lymph node biopsy. Today, surgeons have to remove many lymph nodes under the arm and check each of them for cancer. Breast cancer research scientists are studying whether checking only the node to which cancer is most likely to spread (known as the sentinel lymph node) will allow them to predict whether cancer has spread to other nodes. If this new procedure works as well as standard breast cancer treatment, surgeons may be able to remove fewer lymph nodes, which could reduce lymphedema for many patients.
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