|
|
|
Morning Sun
  • PINK PAGES: Dr. Mathew says survival rate improving

  • The war against breast cancer is far from over, but more women are winning their individual battles against the disease.



    That’s the word from Dr. Boban Mathew, medical oncologist at the Via Christi Cancer Center.

    • email print
  • The war against breast cancer is far from over, but more women are winning their individual battles against the disease.
    That’s the word from Dr. Boban Mathew, medical oncologist at the Via Christi Cancer Center.
    “The five-year survival rate is improving,” he said. “The five-year survival rate for women in all stages of breast cancer is now 89 percent.”
    And, for those whose cancers were diagnosed and treated early, before the disease had a chance to spread, that five-year survival rate is 99 percent.
    “This all has to do with earlier detection and treatment, as well as better treatments,” Mathew said.
    However, he added that it is estimated that there will be 370 deaths from breast cancer in Kansas during 2012, and it is also estimated there will be another 1,990 new cases diagnosed in the state this year.
    “Nationwide, it is estimated there will be 229,060 new cases in 2012 and 39,920 deaths from breast cancer,” Mathew said. “From about 1990 we have been seeing a gradual decline in the death rate, but it’s still big.”
    He said that more local patients are choosing to be treated locally, and more patients from outlying areas are coming in to Via Christi.
    “A patient’s support system is here, so it’s good if they can get treatment locally,” Mathew said. “It’s less a disruption in their lives, and less a strain for patients who are not feeling well.”
    Via Christi Cancer Center has a tie-in with the University of Kansas-based Midwest Cancer Alliance, and the oncologist said that this is a great benefit to local patients.
    “With our tie-in with KU, patients can get a second opinion without even leaving Pittsburg,” Mathew said. “They can even have their exams done without leaving Pittsburg with the help of a local nurse.”
    And, because the University of Kansas Cancer Center was recently designated as a National Cancer Institute cancer center, patients will have access to clinical trials available only to NCI-designated cancer centers.
    A great deal of research is being devoted to breast cancer, and Mathew said that it is paying off.
    “Treatment is becoming more personalized to the patient,” he said. “Not all breast cancers are the same, and it is not one-treatment-fits-everybody any more. We are finding more targets, better tests to predict the risk of recurrence. We have 19-gene profiles and 21-gene profiles that can access the risk for a particular patient and tell how aggressive or how mild the treatment can be for them.”
    While there’s not a wonder drug available that cures every form of breast cancer, there are more treatment options available.
    “There are more options even in the last two or three years than there were before,” Mathew said. “Most of these are targeted therapies for small sub-groups of patients. New drugs are waiting for FDA approval now.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Targeted therapy is a type of medication that blocks the growth of cancer cells by interfering with specified targeted molecules needed for carcinogenisis and tumor growth. Traditional chemotherapy  simply interferes with rapidly dividing cells.
    “We are moving toward smart drugs that target  the cancer, but spare healthy cells,” Mathew said.
    But one thing remains the same, and that is the need to detect breast cancer — or any other form of cancer — in the earliest possible stages, before it has a chance to spread or become advanced.
    That means women should be aware of their own risk histories, do self-examinations monthly and have professional exams and mammograms as their doctors recommend.
    “The earlier we can catch cancer and treat it, the better chance the patient can live long without evidence of the disease,” Mathew said.
        • »  EVENTS CALENDAR