What’s trending in the fight against breast cancer?
As Legacy Cancer Institute prepares for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Nathalie Johnson, M.D., medical director of Legacy Cancer Institute, appeared on KGW Newschannel 8 to discuss the top trending topics in the fight against breast cancer.
Click here to watch Dr. Johnson’s interview and continue reading for more details about some of the topics she discussed:
Nipple sparing mastectomies
Despite advances in reconstruction techniques, removal of the nipple can result in a sense of mutilation. As one of the greatest recent advancements in the breast surgical field, nipple sparing mastectomy or hidden scare surgery preserves the breast skin and the nipple and can support women in feeling whole again after a breast cancer diagnosis.
Molecular breast imaging: a new tool to improve breast cancer detection
Some mammograms are difficult to interpret due to dense breast tissue, scarring from previous surgery, scattered calcifications, or implants and further testing is necessary for an accurate evaluation.
Legacy Breast Health Center – Good Samaritan will be the first on the west coast to offer Molecular Breast Imaging (MBI) system beginning in October as a complementary diagnostic tool to detect breast cancer (even in women with dense breast tissue) after a questionable mammogram.
MBI differs from other breast imaging modalities such as mammography and ultrasound in that it is a functional (metabolic) test rather than a structural (anatomic) test. Structural or anatomical imaging takes a picture of the tissue within the breast, both normal and abnormal, like cysts, glands, ducts, tumors or scar tissue. These tests are trying to find something that “looks” suspicious. MBI as a functional imaging procedure images cellular metabolism allowing physicians to see the metabolic activity of the tissue, and see if the tissue “acts” suspicious which can help to differentiate benign from malignant tissue since they often look alike on mammography or ultrasound.
Immunotherapy works with the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells by exploiting the fact that cancer cells often have molecules on their surface that can be detected by the immune system.
Many types of immunotherapy drugs are under study and but clinical trials have proven that it has the potential to improve outcomes for breast cancer patients.
Neoadjuvant therapy approaches
Neoadjuvant therapy is given before surgery. Before treatment begins, the patient will have a biopsy to determine which kind of therapy will be most beneficial:
• Neoadjuvant chemotherapy – doesn’t change survival rate but can change surgical options by shrinking a larger tumor so that lumpectomy plus radiation therapy becomes an alternative to mastectomy.
• Neoadjuvant hormone therapy – like Neoadjuvant chemotherapy, it does not increase survival rate but does increase surgical options. Neoadjuvant hormone therapy is only used to treat hormone receptor-positive breast cancers.
• Neoadjuvant therapy for HER2-positive breast cancers – For HER2-positive breast cancers, neoadjuvant therapy usually includes trastuzumab and pertuzumab.
In some cases, neoadjuvant therapy will shrink the tumor so much that the pathologist can’t find any remaining cancer. This is called a pathologic complete response (pCR).
For more information about Legacy Cancer Institute’s breast health services, click here.
Contact Megan Deisler with media-related questions.