Better diagnosis to improve breast cancer treatment

Breast cancer patients will soon have a better chance of fighting the disease thanks to new pathology guidelines created by University of Queensland researchers.

The guidelines allow pathologists to identify which patients have more aggressive forms of breast cancer, which means they can be classified appropriately and their treatment can be tailored.

Physical activity

Exercise is one of the best things women can do for themselves, says director of the Program for Young Women with Breast Cancer at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. It doesn’t mean marathons or hot yoga, but walking three to five times a week can make a huge difference in terms of energy, stamina and how you feel during treatment. Partridge says that while exercising during treatment won’t be easy for every woman with breast cancer, it can be worthwhile if there are days during treatment cycles where women feel up to it.

Minority breast cancer patients tend to have higher rates of adjuvant treatment underuse. We implemented a web-based intervention that closes referral loops between surgeons and oncologists at inner-city safety net hospitals serving high volumes of minority breast cancer patients to assist these hospitals to improve care coordination.

Abstract and Introduction

Breast imaging has made huge advances in the last decade, and along with newer techniques to diagnose primary breast cancer, many novel methods are being used and look promising in detecting distant metastasis, recurrent disease and assessing response to treatment. Full-field digital mammography optimizes the lesion-background contrast and gives better sensitivity, and it is possible to see through the dense tissues by altering computer windows; this may be particularly useful in younger women with dense breasts. The need for repeat imaging is reduced, with the added advantage of reduced radiation dose to patients. Computer-aided detection systems may help the radiologist in interpretation of both conventional and digital mammograms. MRI has a role in screening women at high risk for breast cancer. It also aids in cancer management by assessing response to treatment and can help in deciding appropriate surgery by providing accurate information on the extent of the tumor. Newer diagnostic techniques such as sestamibi scans, optical imaging and molecular diagnostic techniques look promising, but need more investigation into their use. Their roles will appear clearer in coming years, and they may prove to be of help in further investigating lesions that are indeterminate on standard imaging. Other upcoming techniques are contrast-enhanced mammography and tomosynthesis. These may give additional information in indeterminate lesions, and when used in screening they aid in reducing recall rates, as shown in recent studies. PET/computed tomography has a role in detecting local disease recurrence and distant metastasis in breast cancer patients.