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The Fight Against Breast Cancer

Jun 22, 2008
Among some of the bigger reasons for a payout from private health insurance companies is for the incidents of breast cancer. Currently, this disease kills 1200 women and 100 men in the UK every year. These figures are too high and scientists are always looking for ways to improve on it. Up to thirty per cent of breast cancers will be of the aggressive type.

Thus comes the latest breakthrough breast cancer drug that shrinks the tumours of women with the most aggressive forms of the disease. A quarter of all the women in the drug trial found that their tumours had shrunk and another quarter had been told that their tumour had had no significant growth.

Herceptin is the normal drug of choice for this type of cancer but this was failing to halt the disease. However, with a mixed treatment of Herceptin and Pertuzumab, this is when the best results were seen.

If a person has a large amount of protein, HER2, on the surface of the tumour the disease will be much more aggressive and non-responsive to chemotherapy. Private health insurance will pay for continued treatment so that is one less worry for the patient but a halting or reducing of the disease is the best thing that could happen.

One patient from Manchester was diagnosed with breast cancer fifteen years ago and underwent a double mastectomy. Despite that, the disease returned and spread to her lungs. She was not expected to live longer than 49 years of age but using the new drug has seen her reach 54 with no worsening of the disease.

Private health insurance will often pay for preventative tests and treatment and it is hoped this drug will be developed for high-risk women who test positive to HER2 protein. It is also hoped that it will eventually do away with the need for chemotherapy - a costly and unpleasant treatment.

Although the treatment with the new drug is not expected to be widely available in the UK for about another five years, there are other things that medics are doing to lessen the destruction caused by breast cancer. Breast screening is hailed as a roaring success in the on-going battle because tumours are being picked up early and successfully treated.

This early detection and treatment means that patients can expect a normal life span. This applies to 61 per cent of those screened so certainly shows that it's worth attending those appointments, however unpleasant you think they might be.

Early detection through screening is also invaluable to those with invasive breast cancer, putting the 15 year survival rate at 86 per cent, which is greatly improved on previous figures. Screening is responsible for finding a third of all breast cancer cases and women aged 50 to 70 are offered three yearly scans. This is set to be extended to cover women between 47 and 73. This means an extra 400,000 women will be helped by 2012.

This year sees the twentieth anniversary of the introduction of breast screening in the UK and has saved thousands of lives through routine checkups. In that time, treatments for breast cancer have also improved and survival rates are expected to see continued growth. It is expected that in the future less and less women will have to suffer the trauma of a mastectomy.

Raloxifene is a drug that is used in the fight against osteoporosis and this has also been found to help prevent breast cancers. For those on this drug the risk of contracting the most common form of breast cancer was more than halved.
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