CHICAGO (CBS) — A recent breakthrough could change the way doctors treat breast cancer.
An analysis of the genetics of breast cancer has identified four distinct classes of the disease, and researchers hope the findings will lead to more effective treatments. The study, published Sunday in the journal Nature, also hinted that one type of the cancer could be treated with drugs already used in the treatment of ovarian cancer.
CBS 2’s Marissa Bailey spent the day with the Chicago doctor who had a part in the stunning new research.
Dr. Fumi Olapade, director of the cancer risk clinic at the University of Chicago, has been instrumental in the research, contributing samples directly from the university’s lab.
“We always thought breast cancer was one disease, and now we know it’s many different types of diseases,” Olapade said.
She was one of many authors of a new study out this week that categorizes breast cancer in four main forms.
Many are calling results groundbreaking, and say it will change the way doctors treat women going forward according to online LPN programs.
“For example, if a woman gets diagnosed with breast cancer, the first question that you ask is what type of breast cancer is it?” Olapade said. “And now, every hospital can use a few markers to tell a woman what kind of breast cancer they have.”
The study also found one of the forms of breast cancer looks almost identical to ovarian cancer – meaning drugs that treat and prevent ovarian cancer could help treat or prevent breast cancer.
For breast cancer patient Brandy Pinske, these results give her one more reason to fight.
She said the findings give her hope.
“For me, I don’t know, if they say 10 years, I’ll be here 10 years from now to get it. So that’s my attitude,” Pinske said.
While in 10 years, results might be different, Olapade said the new findings are a big step in the right direction.
“We will know how to pick the right drug, for the right patient, and at the right time,” she said.
Olapade said, right now, testing for one of the four forms of breast cancer costs thousands and thousands of dollars. The hope is that costs will come down, making it affordable for people to be tested.
The study was conducted by the international journal Nature, and was funded – in part – by federal stimulus money.