Promising Treatments Work Toward Ending Breast Cancer

National Cancer Coalition sets 2020 goal to develop vaccine for metastasis.

The Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition supports the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s efforts to learn how to end breast cancer by Jan. 1, 2020.

The ultimate goal is to end breast cancer all together by preventing breast cancer from occurring and stopping metastasis, which leads to death from the disease.

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“Developing a vaccine or a method of preventing metastasis would be a total game changer,” says Deni S. Galileo, associate professor at the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Delaware and senior research scientist at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute at Christiana Care
Health System.

In the United States, the risk of a woman developing breast cancer has increased dramatically, from about one in 11 in 1975 to one in eight today.

Despite advances in treatment, breast cancer continues to kill. In 1991, 119 women died of breast cancer every day in the United States. In 2013, the number had declined only slightly to 110 deaths a day. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States, after lung cancer.

So, how to beat the disease? Although scientists don’t agree on the approach, there is exciting research into therapeutic breast cancer vaccines that will stimulate the production of antibodies that will attack and kill cancer cells in the body. 

Researchers also are exploring a preventative vaccine that would keep breast cancer from developing. Already, a vaccine has proven effective in preventing human papillomavirus, or HPV, which causes
cervical cancer.

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In addition, there are promising new treatments that prevent metastasis, or the spread of cancer to lymph nodes or other parts of the body, most commonly the lungs, liver, bone and brain.

“When cancer invades other areas it is very difficult to control,” Galileo says. “But if the cancer stays put in the breast, a surgeon can cut it out—and that’s the end of it.”  

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