Culture

Women with Aggressive Breast Cancer Are Living Longer

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In the fight against breast cancer, there is a glimmer of good news emerging from a recent study that was published by the National Cancer Institute. Apparently, women who are living with advanced breast cancer are living longer, and one probable reason for this is that treatments for aggressive forms of the disease have improved over the last few years.

According to the Washington Post,

The study found that between 1992 and 1994, and 2005 and 2012, the five-year survival rate among women under age 50 initially diagnosed with advanced disease doubled from 18 percent to 36 percent. The median survival time for that group increased from 22.3 months to almost 39 months. For women ages 50 to 64, the survival time grew from a little more than 19 months to almost 30 months.

The lead author, Angela Mariotto of the National Cancer Institute, called the findings “favorable” because they were partly due to longer survival times resulting from better treatments. For example, the drug Herceptin, which was approved in the late 1990s, has been shown to lengthen the lives of women with certain aggressive breast cancers.

The researchers calculated that more than 154,000 women are currently living with cancer that has spread beyond the breast, the most serious form of the disease.

As medical professionals learn more about aggressive cancers, improving quality of life has become an important part of the treatment process. And while metastatic breast cancer is still considered incurable, the treatment options have improved.

But new therapies targeting the triggers of the disease as well as improved palliative care mean women “can and often do live for years with reasonable quality of life, albeit undergoing constant treatment to keep their disease under control,” they said.