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What Your Donations Do
Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer diagnosis for women, and the rate of new diagnoses has risen over the years. The good news, however, is that survival rates are much higher today than they were twenty years ago. Not only are women today living longer after a diagnosis, but they are also maintaining a higher quality of life. These positive changes are the results of research.
Donate Your Old Glasses & We Will Donate $5 To Breast Cancer Research
Drop your old eyeglasses off at any of our 3 stores, Winter Park, Melbourne, or Orange City.
Understanding The Biology Of Breast Cancer
In the 1990s, scientists recognized only two categories of breast cancer: pre-menopausal and post-menopausal. Since then, however, researchers have uncovered many types of cancer that can be categorized into three major groups: hormone receptor (HR) positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) positive, and triple-negative. Each of these sub-types has unique characteristics that require different approaches to treatment. By analyzing the genomes of breast cancer tumors, researchers hope to uncover still more subtypes of the disease.
Understanding The Role Of Genetics In Breast Cancer
In the mid-1990s, researchers identified two inherited gene mutations, BRCA1 and BRCA2, that are associated with a significantly higher risk of developing breast cancer. Since then, more than a hundred other mutations that also play a role in a woman’s cancer risk have been found. Current research seeks to better understand the relationship between genetics and cancer as well as finding links between genetic characteristics and responses to treatment.
Improving Breast Cancer Screening
Early detection is key to successful treatment, and improvements in screening have played a major role in the decline in breast cancer death rates. One of the latest innovations is 3D mammography, a method that combines multiple images that reveal layers of tissue. Because the images are clear and informative, women are getting earlier diagnoses and fewer callbacks due to false alarms. Researchers are working on fine-tuning this screening protocol as well as investigating the benefits of a more individualized approach to scheduling screenings.
Improving Breast Cancer Treatments
Our growing understanding of differences among types of breast cancer as well as differences among patients has revolutionized treatments for the disease. One of the major research efforts in recent years has been the development of treatment protocols for different types of tumors. For example, several new drugs have recently been approved by the FDA to provide targeted therapy in combination with hormonal therapy for both HR-positive and HER2-positive cancers. For triple-negative cancers, which do not respond to targeted therapy, researchers are studying the role of immunotherapy and drugs that block androgen receptors.
Improving Breast Reconstruction Outcomes
The majority of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer will need some form of surgery, which may include reconstruction. A recent improvement in reconstructive surgery is a technique known as re-sensation, which repairs nerves and restores feeling after autologous reconstruction, a procedure that uses tissue from another part of the patient’s body.
Improving Quality Of Life After Cancer
Survivorship is an area of research that looks at the long-term impacts of cancer and cancer treatments. Some current research projects are investigating screening for and treatment of depression in cancer survivors, sleep disorders, chronic pain, experiences of caregivers, and technological resources that can improve quality of life.
Improving Health Disparities Among Populations
Another important area of research is racial disparities in breast cancer outcomes. For example, while the incidence of cancer in black women and white women is similar, black women are more likely to have aggressive cancers at an earlier age. In addition, they are more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage of cancer, and they are more likely to die of cancer than women of any other race or ethnicity. Current research aims to identify and decrease inequities in access to healthcare.
In addition to medical and social research, breast cancer donations contribute to education, fund-raising, and other administrative expenses. The cost of breast cancer research tops $6 billion per year, but it is paying off in the development of life-saving cancer treatments and better lives for cancer survivors and their loved ones.
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