The sheer prevalence of breast cancer can — and should — feel staggering, but the treatment paradigm has come a long way in the last thirty years, and so has our ability to detect breast cancer earlier, when it can be more manageable to treat, or prevent it altogether.
Much of this progress can be attributed to the fact that breast cancer treatment is becoming more personalized as we learn more about the disease. For example, detection of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, the most common breast cancer gene mutations, can indicate a woman’s likelihood to develop breast cancer later in life, flagging the need for early and regular cancer screenings.
These improvements in the ability to detect, prevent and classify breast cancer for a more targeted treatment approach have made an impact on the landscape. In fact, breast cancer incidence rates began decreasing around the year 2000 after increasing for the previous two decades.
While all advances, big and small, should be celebrated when it comes to a disease as pervasive as breast cancer, there is always more to do. Thankfully, there is a seemingly great amount within reach as the field evaluates more personalized approaches to care.