This is the first time that an entire breast cancer cell DNA sequence has ever been decoded. The understanding gained from this achievement should eventually allow researchers to develop drugs that can specifically target the appropriate genetic actors responsible for the metastasis of this kind of breast cancer. Now that one type of breast cancer has been genetically decoded, others will surely follow, which means that a new era of breast cancer treatment could soon be dawning.
Killing Cancer Twice
The Institute of Cancer Research in England has recently discovered something interesting about cell cancer death. They found out that there are actually two different ways that cancerous cells can die, and not just one as had previously been believed.
The normal way that human cells expire is called apoptosis, and it was assumed that chemotherapy drugs worked by encouraging this process. But it turns out there is a second pathway to extinction that works with some types of cancer cells called necroptosis. This new understanding of the death patterns of specific breast cancers will allow medical professionals to begin targeting chemotherapy drugs in a much more precise way, based on what kind of death activity particular drugs are capable of facilitating. Chemotherapy has often been hit-and-miss in the past; but with this new discovery, this type of breast cancer treatment could become more efficient and consistently effective in the future.
Stressing Out Breast Cancer
Researchers at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland have been looking at the connection between stress and poor breast cancer prognosis. Stress hormones like adrenaline may cause cancer to recur more frequently, progress faster, and lead to death more often, and the Trinity researchers wanted to see what would happen if the biochemical pathways these hormones follow were to be blocked. These experiments were very successful, and breast cancer recurrence was consistently reduced in women who were subjected to the hormone pathway blocking treatment.
The connection between stress and breast cancer clearly needs more study. However, based on the implications of these findings, drugs that can block stress hormone responses may not only hold promise for those already suffering from the disease, but if taken preemptively they may be able to prevent the disease from developing in the first place in some women.
Progress and Hope
Progress in breast cancer research frequently means that medical science has been able to deepen their understanding of how breast cancer cells and tumors function in the human body. It can also means that medical professionals have a better idea about how the disease originally develops in women, and why it advances and spreads the way it does. Learning more about breast cancer is what will allow oncologists and their medical support teams to choose treatments that will address the needs of not just women with breast cancer in general, but of individual women with very specific strains of the disease. This greater precision in knowledge is what will eventually lead to a decrease in the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer, and to a decrease in the number of women who die from it.