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Same Breast Cancer Diagnosis, Different Treatments
Breast cancer is a highly complex disease with varying types and subtypes. What your friend or mom may experience may not be your situation at all. No two patients are alike, and no two breast cancer diagnoses are the same. Age, general health, medical history, and cancer specifics all play a part in your treatment plan, making each patient’s journey unique. Treatment programs are tailored specifically for each patient – a practice known as precision medicine.
At Bedford Breast Center, our customized approach is the cornerstone of our breast cancer services. Bedford Breast Center was created by women for women. Our Beverly Hills, CA medical center uses state-of-the-art breast cancer screening, diagnostic imaging, surgical and non-surgical treatments, and reconstruction techniques to help personalize a cancer treatment plan for you.
What is a Personalized Cancer Treatment Plan?
A personalized cancer treatment plan, based on precision medicine, is an approach to cancer diagnosis, treatment, and prevention that considers your genetic makeup and other markers present within the cancer cells. Your medical care will depend partly on your genes because genes don’t just carry information that determines your traits. They are instructions that tell your body’s cells how to grow and develop. Many cancers involve specific genes. Breast tumors, for instance, have their unique generic signatures. We can pinpoint how a tumor might behave through genetic testing, allowing us to provide the therapy that offers maximum benefits. Personalized cancer medicine helps doctors and researchers predict or diagnose disease, guide treatment decisions, design more effective treatments, and develop ways to prevent a recurrence.
Factors that Affect Your Treatment Plan
When we design your treatment plan at Bedford Breast Center, we consider several important factors such as:
- Your breast cancer stage and whether it has spread to lymph nodes or other areas such as the brain, bones, and liver
- Your cancer’s hormonal status (whether its estrogen receptor-positive (ER-positive) or progesterone receptor-positive (PR-positive))
- Whether there is the presence of the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) protein
- Whether there is the presence of genomic markers, including mutated copies of the breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2
- Your age and menopausal status
- Your general health, well-being, and preferences
Your Genes and Cancer
Cancer cells are mutated versions of normal cells. Something changes in a normal cell to make it transform into a cancer cell. While we cannot determine all the genes and mutations involved in cancer development, we can test the mutations we know.
The goal of precision medicine is to personalize treatment to your specific genetic makeup and the genetic changes in the cancer cells. The process will involve analyzing the genetic makeup of your cancer cells. Examples of genetic tests are:
- Drug-Gene Testing – Your genetic makeup may impact the way your body metabolizes medications, including breast cancer drugs. Your doctor may use genetic testing to determine which drugs and dosages are most appropriate for your case. Pharmacogenomics is the study of how your genes affect your response to medication.
- Advanced Cancer – For cancers that have progressed despite treatment, your doctor may also look into your cancer cells’ genetic makeup. Tumor sequencing looks for alterations in the cancer so that your doctor can determine the best medication for your specific tumor type.
- Family History – Doctors can also perform genetic testing for inherited gene mutations, such as the BRCA gene, which may increase your breast cancer risk. We typically offer this test to those with a strong family history of breast cancer. Doctors also use this same test to determine if you would respond to a specific drug to treat metastatic breast cancer (Parp inhibitor).
Benefits of a Personalized Treatment Plan
In addition to patient condition, genetic makeup, and stage of disease, personalized treatment plans also consider the latest medical knowledge and available clinical trials. Precision medicine will offer significant advantages, including:
- Identifying who might be at high risk of cancer
- Finding certain cancers early
- Accurately diagnosing specific types of cancer
- Choosing the best treatment options
- Evaluating which treatments are working and how they are working
- Preventing certain types of cancer
Options for Your Treatment Plan
Breast cancer is being detected earlier through more advanced screenings, making the disease highly treatable. Cancer care providers are also becoming more knowledgeable in treating breast cancer in all its stages. Your treatment plan might include any or all of the following treatment options:
- Surgery – This is the most common treatment option for breast cancer patients. Surgery removes cancerous cells from the body and helps doctors see whether the cancer has spread. The procedure may involve removing the entire tumor or as much of it as possible. Types of surgeries include lumpectomy or breast-conserving surgery (removes all cancer while leaving non-cancerous breast tissue intact) and mastectomy (removes the entire breast or both breasts)
- Chemotherapy – We often recommend this treatment before or after breast cancer surgery. It utilizes drugs to destroy breast cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs are usually injected directly into a vein through a needle or taken orally in pill form.
- Hormone therapy – This treatment slows or stops the growth of hormone-sensitive tumors by decreasing the body’s ability to produce hormones or blocking the action of hormones on breast cancer cells. Hormone therapy is only used for breast cancers with receptors for the naturally occurring hormones estrogen or progesterone.
- Radiation therapy – Radiation destroys or slows down the growth of cancer cells by killing them with high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation. Radiation therapy damages the cancer cells’ DNA. It is typically used after breast cancer surgery to kill off any lingering cells or those that have spread to other areas, such as the brain or bones.
- Targeted therapy – This treatment uses drugs to change the way cells work and helps the body control cancer growth. For instance, targeted therapy may block the action of an abnormal protein that stimulates cancer cell growth. These drugs target specific proteins and genes involved in the development and survival of cancer cells.
- Immunotherapy – This process uses drugs to stimulate the immune system to destroy cancer cells. It helps the body recognize and attack breast cancer cells.
A Plan Designed for Best Outcomes
Because of precision medicine, patients can have treatment options based on their tumor’s particular markers. One of precision medicine’s objectives is to give cancer patients the treatments that are most likely to be effective on their specific cancer with fewer harmful side effects. Analyzing a patient’s tumor to determine the best combination of drugs and treatment procedures is what personalized care is all about. With this degree of specificity also comes greater potential for treatment success.
Finding Support from Others
At Bedford Breast Center, we understand cancer is a life-changing event –but it is one that you don’t have to go through alone. This journey is easier with a robust support system that includes your family, friends, and breast cancer treatment team.
Your medical team will consist of your general surgeon, oncologist, breast reconstructive surgeon, and nursing staff. Each member will guide you through the process, from detection and diagnosis to tumor removal and breast reconstruction (if necessary). Our goal is to deliver the best breast cancer treatments available. Bedford Breast Center in Beverly Hills is a world-class medical center dedicated to early detection. Our surgeons understand the importance of aesthetics as well as curing disease.
Seek The Best Breast Cancer Treatment From Our Los Angeles Medical Center
You’re more than another patient at Bedford Breast Center. We care for you as we would for our own family – with focus and compassion. Our team sees each patient with a breast cancer diagnosis as a unique individual who deserves a carefully thought-out, personalized breast cancer treatment plan. To learn more about our breast cancer services, contact our Beverly Hills, CA facility today.