What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer develops when there is an uncontrolled growth of breast cells. Specifically, the term “breast cancer” refers to a malignant tumor which has developed from cells in the breast.
Typically, breast cancer begins in the cells of the lobules, which are the milk-producing glands/ducts. Although less common, breast cancer can begin in other breast tissues. Breast cancer may start or progress due to a genetic abnormality or a “mistake” in the genetic material of the breast cells.
Breast cancer staging (0-IV)
Breast cancer staging refers to how far the cancer cells have spread beyond where the original tumor was. It is determined by cancer characteristics (size, and whether hormone receptors are present).
Breast cancer is staged from 0-IV, with 0 being the earliest stage (non-invasive, has not spread), to IV (invasive, and has spread to other parts of the body).
Find a Breast Cancer Clinical Trial That’s Right for you
Breast cancer symptoms
Breast cancer symptoms vary widely. Symptoms can include but are not limited to skin changes, lumps, and swelling.
- 5-10% of breast cancers are due to family history
- 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime
Surgery: Surgeries can include, breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy), mastectomy (removal of the whole breast) and lymph node dissection
Chemotherapy: Chemo can be taken as a pill or given as an infusion through the vein. Chemo can be given in cycles or rounds, where each round of treatment is followed by a break.
Radiation Therapy: Highly targeted and effective way to damage cancer cells in the breast area that might be present after surgery.
Hormonal Therapy: Systemic treatment used to treat hormone-receptor-positive breast cancers by lowering the amount of hormone estrogen in the body, and blocking the action of estrogen in breast cancer cells.
Targeted Therapy: Target specific characteristics of cancer cells, such as proteins that allow cancer cells to grow rapidly or in abnormal ways.
Immunotherapy: Enables the body’s own immune system to attack cancer cells in order to help stop or slow cancer cells from spreading
Systemic therapies: can be taken by mouth or through infusion, or be taken alone, known as monotherapy. They can also be taken as combination of two or more drugs.
Breast Cancer Clinical trials
Clinical trials are designed to find new or better ways to prevent, screen for, or treat a disease. These trials involve human participants to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of new approaches or treatments for breast cancer.
If you or a loved one needs assistance in finding current clinical trials for breast cancer, our clinical team will be happy to assist you.
Importance of clinical trials
Whether a new test or therapy becomes part of our standard of treatment depends largely on clinical trial results. These trials can be used for all types and stages of breast cancer. While many clinical trials focus on those already diagnosed, there are breast cancer prevention clinical trials available that focus more on prevention and screening.
Clinical trial options
Metastatic breast cancer clinical trials:
Metastatic breast cancer is when the disease has spread to other areas of the body. This advanced cancer stage is harder to treat, and effective options can be limited. Participation in clinical trials for metastatic breast cancer could provide patients with additional viable options and with access to the newest, innovative, yet to be approved cancer treatments.
Metaplastic breast cancer clinical trials:
Metaplastic breast cancer is a rare form of breast cancer affecting less than 1%. Researchers and physicians are exploring clinical trials in or to begin to understand the different treatments that could be beneficial for patients.