An Expert's Perspective on Treating Advanced Breast Cancer
Learning you have breast cancer can turn your world upside down, but breakthroughs in treatment are helping to transform this type of cancer into a manageable chronic disease. Oncologist Dennis Citrin, MD, with Cancer Treatment Centers of America, explains what he tells his patients about living with late-stage breast cancer.
1. Q: What’s the goal of treatment with advanced breast cancer?
A: The modern approach to treating advanced breast cancer is to turn it into a chronic illness—we can do this today because we know an increasing amount about how breast cancer develops and grows; these research breakthroughs are, in my opinion, the biggest advancements in breast cancer treatment in the last 20 years. Today, patients can live with breast cancer just as people live with chronic illnesses like diabetes. Every day, a diabetic gives herself a shot of insulin or pops a pill to control her diabetes. She isn’t cured of the disease—she’s still diabetic—but her disease is under control. It’s not going to kill her and it’s not going to significantly impair the course of her life. This is the way we approach advanced breast cancer today, to turn it into a chronic illness the patient can live with while at the same time maintain a good quality of life. With most women, we can do this for many years.
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