New Brunswick, N.J., October 6, 2020 – Thanks to advances in research, targeted therapies, and a more personalized approach to treating women diagnosed with breast cancer, there are more options for breast cancer patients now than ever before. Michele Blackwood, MD, FACS, chief of breast cancer surgery at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and northern regional director of breast services for RWJBarnabas Health shares more.
How have treatment options for breast cancer improved in recent years?
Breast cancer treatment has changed in a myriad of ways. In the past, patients diagnosed with breast cancer were limited to treatment options like radiation and a mastectomy, and most patients received the same care. Now, breast cancer care is no longer one-size fits all. At Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and through the oncology service line at RWJBarnabas Health, our team of radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, nurses and others are able to collaborate and design a treatment plan that is tailored to the patient based on their unique needs. Radiation options now range from treating the whole breast or partial breast with traditional radiotherapy or more advanced options like proton therapy. There are also more refined and targeted medications that may prevent the need for chemotherapy, including those that block the action of an abnormal protein that signals cancer cells to multiply.
What are some advances in the surgical care of breast cancer patients?
Today, there are numerous options for reconstruction, and surgeries can be minimal or advanced. There are many changes in the way that surgeons approach breast cancer removal. For one, new localization techniques allow surgeons to avoid implanting wires into a woman’s breast with a needle to locate the abnormality, a once standard biopsy approach. One of the most recent technological advances for breast cancer surgery is the implementation of advanced technology to take images in the operating room so we can be sure that the lesion was completely removed.
What are hopes for the future of breast cancer care?
The future of breast cancer care is here. More personalized and precise care has led to improved outcomes for patients, and more effective treatments are continually evolving through research and clinical trials which are offered at Rutgers Cancer Institute and RWJBarnabas Health facilities through our partnership. Another aspect of care that we can expect to continue to see grow into the future is portable care. Modern technology allows patients to experience their first consult in the comfort of their home surrounded by loved ones while learning their options quickly and can ultimately hasten their time to surgery and treatment.
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