This first week of October has a number of different occasions associated with it. For some, it begins a countdown for Halloween, and it means they need to start seriously thinking about costumes. For others, it signifies the real beginning of the fall season as the leaves start to change colors. And for a growing number of people, it marks the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness month.
Breast cancer is one of the leading types of cancer affecting women. Today, 1 in 9 women will develop a form of breast cancer in their lifetimes. It is more than likely you actually have a family member who has fought, or will have to fight, breast cancer.
With all the medical and technological advancements made over the years, it can be difficult to understand why we have yet to develop a cure for such a common problem. After all, we just landed on Mars! Surely we must have made huge leaps in the fight against breast cancer.
Well, we have. (And don’t call me Shirley).
There is a new technology out today that will help with early detection for breast cancer- which is one of the best defenses- a 3-D mammogram. 2-D mammograms only take pictures from the side and the top, making it difficult to really see if there is a problem until the problem gets too big to hide. However, now with this 3-D imaging, doctors will be able to take a much clearer and more in-depth picture, which will lead to more early detections and give patients their best chance to fight.
The University of South Florida has teamed up with NASA in the effort to research how cancers develop, which will help determine a more effective way to treat them. Using what is known as a bioreactor, researchers are able to grow cancerous cells in a zero-gravity environment, which helps mimic more accurately how a cancer grows within a human body.
Knowledge is power
As more and more technological and medical advancements are made, doctors are focusing more and more on targeted, personalized treatments. In order to make sure they are providing the best possible treatment for each individual patient, the doctors need more information. That is where this next advancement comes in. By using a new form of technology to tag the chemical components within the tissue itself, doctors are now able to learn more about the particular type of cancer before ever starting treatment. This increases the likelihood that they will be providing the best type of treatment for their patient, thereby increasing the patient’s survival rate.
Full Genome Analysis
Until recently, the idea of being able to quickly and accurately analyze and test an entire human genome only existed in futuristic movies like GATTACA. But now, it is possible. Within a matter of weeks labs are able to sequence, test, and analyze the entire genome of a person, which opens up a world of discoveries. Not only does it help diagnose “mystery illnesses” in patients, but it has huge implications for cancer research and cures. With this information doctors will be able to provide even more accurate treatments for cancer patients, and one day they might even be able to identify patients that are going to get cancer…before they even start showing any symptoms.
Even with all the medical and technological advancements being made, the most important way to help fight breast cancer is by spreading awareness and knowledge. Make sure that you do regular checks, and routinely go for mammographys. Nag the women in your life to stay on top of their checkups, especially if they are over the age of 50. So, Happy October! Break out the pink ribbons and spread the word!