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Genetic Profiling Adds New Dimension to Breast Cancer Treatment
Date:10/14/2011

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Oct. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Treatment for breast cancer has advanced in recent years by becoming more and more personalized.

Not personalized to the patient, mind you, but to the particular tumors and cancer cells inside that patient.

New tests are allowing doctors to figure out what genetic or biological factors are driving each individual woman's type of cancer, and new therapies are being targeted to directly attack those specific factors.

"When it comes to treating breast cancer, we used to throw the book at everyone," said Dr. Christy A. Russell, a board member of the American Cancer Society's California division and an associate professor at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine. "Now it's much more targeted."

That's a message worth sharing during October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The same five treatment options are still available to women with breast cancer: surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy and targeted therapy. But researchers are honing and improving each option, either to better target the cancer cells or to provide women with a wider range of treatment choices.

"Within each of those types of treatment modalities, we are refining how the treatment is delivered or how we choose which treatment is appropriate for each patient," said Susan Brown, a registered nurse and director of health education for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a nonprofit group focused on fighting breast cancer.

For example, there have been few advances in creating new chemotherapy drugs to battle breast cancer, Russell said. "What has changed is trying to figure out who will benefit from chemotherapy," she said. "We are taking the cancers and having them evaluated genetically, to give us some genetic signatures to tell us if those cancers would shrink if they got chemotherapy."

This "genomic profiling"
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