Breast cancer surviving artist Emily Helck took a series of still pictures and compiled them in a 60-second-long video, showing weeks where she lost her hair due to chemotherapy, having her breasts removed and the healing that followed. Next, Angelo Merendino speaks about his photographs of his beautiful wife Jen as she went through treatment and died from metastatic breast cancer. Finally Ann Marie Giannino-Otis talks about her process and photographs of her experience through breast cancer.
If you have chronic pain and are looking for alternatives to medication and surgery, you have a lot of options. Alternative pain treatments that doctors once scoffed at are now standard at many pain centers.
"A public release from the Society of Interventional Radiology’s Annual Scientific Meeting highlights a new, groundbreaking treatment modality for metastatic breast cancer that has spread to the liver.
The outpatient procedure, called yttrium-90 (Y-90) radioembolization, involves gliding a catheter through a small incision in the groin area into the artery that supplies blood to the liver. Once in place, the catheter releases small microbeads that target the cancer. The beads embed themselves into the tumor and release concentrated radiation, killing the tumor but sparing the surrounding tissue.
The treatment was analyzed after use on 75 women with metastatic breast cancer whose liver tumors did not respond to normal treatments such as chemotherapy and tumor resection. Of the 69 patients who came in for a follow up, 98.5% showed a stabilization of their tumor, and 24 had at least a 30% reduction in their tumor size.
“While patient selection is important, the therapy is not limited by tumor size, shape, location or number, and it can ease the severity of disease in patients who cannot be treated effectively with other approaches,” said Robert J. Lewandowski, M.D., FSIR, associate professor of radiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
This presentation comes on the heels of a study published last week (March 17th) in Clinical Genetics, in which researchers sought to personalize the genetic makeup of breast cancers in the same way that lung and colon cancers can be genetically tested to determine the appropriate treatment. “Molecular profiling exposes a tumor’s Achilles heel. We can see what messages the tumor cells are receiving and sending. It is a biological intelligence gathering mission in an attempt to interrupt the disease,” says Gregory Tsongalis, PhD, director of Molecular Pathology at Norris Cotton Cancer Center.
In 2011, a 52-year-old runner and yoga enthusiast walked into the office of Monica Loghin, a neuro-oncologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, complaining of numbness and weakness in her lower limbs and difficulty controlling her bladder.
The symptoms were of grave concern, as the patient had previously undergone surgery for breast cancer that had spread to her brain. If such a cancer returns post-surgery, that is often a sign the patient doesn’t have much time left.
An MRI confirmed that the breast cancer had again spread to the woman’s cerebrospinal fluid. Loghin ordered testing of that fluid to see if the patient might have certain biomarkers that could be targeted by existing drugs. (A biomarker is a DNA sequence or protein associated with the disease; different biomarkers can suggest specific treatments, depending on the disease and other factors.) She asked for tests that could detect tumor cells circulating in the blood.
The cancer cells in the fluid bathing the woman’s spinal cord and brain chambers did, in fact, have a lot of the protein that controls a glucose (sugar) transporter that drives cancer cells. The cancer cells in the fluid also had a lot of HER2, a protein associated with aggressive breast cancers but also treatable with a drug called Herceptin (trastuzumab). The drug is usually taken intravenously, but Loghin had heard of a couple of cases in which Herceptin was delivered directly into the cerebrospinal fluid via a flexible tube, or catheter. The patient agreed to this experimental treatment.
It took only a week for the news to improve. After the first infusion of Herceptin, the patient’s cancer numbers were down. Within a few weeks, her cancer cell numbers had fallen so low that her immune system had begun to take over, clearing out the remaining cancer cells. Nearly two and a half years later, the patient is still alive and well enough to do yoga. Another MD Anderson patient who had a similar disease profile and therapy is also alive and well one year after treatment.
This case outlines the dream of personalized medicine: A disease is analyzed at the molecular level. The analysis identifies a drug target. The drug gets delivered where it needs to go. The patient gets better. And while this hopeful scenario has yet to become commonplace, it is becoming more and more the norm for many breast cancer patients.
Documentary about The Science of Acupuncture - Description: For thousands of years, what we now think of as Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) was the only medicine; now, traditional cures are being treated with a fresh respect.
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