Not sure we need a pink ribbon to remind us, women and men alike, the repercussions a diagnosis of breast cancer brings. It is hard to escape that reality when it affects so many. Women are often reminded to create a check-up plan with their doctors that may include regular testing and healthy lifestyle strategies to do their best to prevent the disease that affects so many.
In fact, I wrote about several actions you can take regarding breast cancer prevention a while back that you can find here. But, I would like to bring some attention to some potentially exciting new advancements that can make that check up plan a bit easier in the near future, and certainly less invasive and painful as well as more informative, too. Have you heard of any of these that can possibly help you with that?
NEW STRATEGIES FOR YOUR BREAST HEALTH PLAN
No one-way method of breast examination alone can serve all patients all the time, and research tells us that early detection can play a large role in survival rates of breast cancer. Mammogram, breast MRI and now 3D mammogram all provide critical information, but perhaps these additional tests discussed below could be something to consider and to talk over with your doctor very soon for your breast health plan:
1. Some tests use your body heat as an image.
Thermography is an FDA approved medical imaging method (used in conjunction with another imaging testing) that uses infrared technology for measuring heat levels in the breast tissue. It is painless, noninvasive and inexpensive.
A thermogram detects abnormal heat in the tissue indicating possible new blood vessel formation, which is necessary to sustain tumor growth. Vessel formation can be an early sign that a cancer is forming. No radiation exposure, injections or pressure of the tissue is involved. While a thermogram may show very early a possible development of cancer, a mammogram indicates one that may already be there. Many argue thermograms cannot replace mammography or breast MRI as a complete diagnostic tool, and that may be so, but it may be useful for women who do not want to have the radiation of a mammogram every year or those with dense breasts where mammography only offers a partial read. The improvements to the camera quality for thermograms since the initial research decades ago should be considered when evaluating this tool.
2. An action you take each day can now possibly detect breast cancer early.
Researchers have developed an experimental breast cancer test that uses a urine sample capable of detecting tumors by noting changes in metabolism, The test notes the concentration of metabolites that are present in the urine of all humans, but abnormally high concentrations can signal the presence of cancer. The test was successful 91 percent of the time in determining if a patient was diseased. That’s a whole lot simpler than the pancake making of a mammogram! Mammograms or other diagnostic tools would perhaps be used for follow up imaging if the urine test was positive, but would no longer be necessary for routine screening with radiation exposure.
Don’t miss this: More details here on this test in development.
And, if you have a family history of the disease or are considered high-risk, here are some options that may be a choice soon, as well:
3. Cheaper new genetic tests may be around the corner.
A saliva test under $250 may be in the works for genetic breast and ovarian cancer genes. The company, Color Genomics, plans to offer an analysis of BRCA1 and BRCA2, plus 17 other cancer-risk genes. The cost is substantially lower than current genetic testing that runs in the thousands. Genetic testing can be a mixed bag, however, as some tests results are not clear and do not give the patient a definitive answer as to whether or not the gene exists in their DNA. The real cost of the test is in the interpretation of the results.
Don’t miss this: This article goes into depth regarding the development of this test. Watch for updates regarding this company’s progress in this.
4. Your immune system could use a boost.
Although a breast cancer vaccine is primarily being studied for the treatment of an aggressive form of breast cancer from returning, it could be used in the future for prevention of the disease in the first place. Immunotherapy is behind why a vaccine could work. Now, a vaccine is being tested after chemotherapy treatment to prevent recurrence, but a scientist has developed a vaccine for mice that prevents breast cancer before it starts. Now, they are working on funding a study on humans as well. The vaccine activates the immune system against proteins expressed only in breast tumors causing the tumor to destruct before it can even start to grow.
Don’t miss this: Here is an article on the vaccine that works on mice.
HELPFUL LINKS FOR BREAST HEALTH
Tap on some of these helpful tools to ensure you are caring for yourself:
- Here is a reminder of what a simple plan looks like for breast health.
- Find details on how to do a self-exam here.
- Here is a way to remind yourself to do your monthly self-exam.
Need a bit more?
- Green tea may be a breast cancer preventative. This form of green tea is extra-strength with loads of health benefits that you may want to check out.
- Here are a few productivity tools to help you save time and reduce stress necessary for cancer prevention, too.