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New smart drugs target cancer cells

Doctor's column
By: Dr. Vijay Suhag Special to The News Messenger
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Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in women, with an estimated 175,000 new cases diagnosed each year. But there’s good news: It’s also one of the most treatable cancers. New developments in medical oncology, radiation and surgical approaches are giving breast cancer patients the most cutting-edge treatments available. Targeted therapy is one of these treatments. Targeted therapy drugs are an important weapon in the fight against breast cancer and have been shown to stop cancer in its tracks, without the toxic side effects that patients suffer from traditional chemotherapy or radiation. Unlike traditional chemotherapy, these smart-drugs targets specific genes that get mutated in cancer cells, while leaving healthy tissues alone. Depending on the type of cancer and its stage, targeted therapy can be used to cure the cancer, slow the cancer’s growth, kill cancer cells that may have spread to other parts of the body and relieve symptoms caused by cancer. Today, there are many types of targeted therapies used to treat breast cancer and new ones are coming out all the time. Breast cancer mortality rates are declining, while the five-year survival rate is climbing. These successes relate to increased early detection, a better understanding of genetic risk factors and advancements in treatment. Health-care providers agree that regular self exams and clinical breast exams, along with annual mammograms after age 40, are the best defense against breast cancer. Talk to your doctor for more information about breast cancer prevention, detection and treatment. Dr. Vijay Suhag is a Sutter Independent Physician.