DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – When Terri Thompson was first diagnosed with breast cancer 13 years ago, there was no question about how her cancer would be treated after she had her tumor removed.
“I had to go through 12 weeks of chemo therapy and 8 weeks of radiation everyday, so it was very hard to endure,” she said.
But the findings of a new study could change how doctors treat breast cancer for years to come.
Joanne Blum M.D., the Director of Breast Cancer Risk Evaluation Program at Baylor Cancer Center, says the findings will eventually allow doctors too give patients more individualized treatment.
“We will end up with a big computer print out of all of the different mutations or amplifications or changes within that tumor and then we can say to the that patient, the patient of the future, ‘We need to treat you this way,'” she said. “This is a life changing study for the breast cancer field.”
Researchers studied the genetic components of 825 breast cancer tumors and determined four major classes of the disease.
They also discovered similarities between the genetic components of ovarian cancer and one of the most deadly classes of breast cancer. Now doctors say drugs already on the market used to treat ovarian cancer may soon help treat certain types of breast cancer.
But doctors warn it will be 5 to 10 years before drug treatments and technology catch up with the study’s findings.
“Ultimately, we will get to the point where each patients tumor is characterized and we’re getting there but we are not there yet,” said Dr. Blum.
“It would have affected me tremendously because they know what type of tumor it is prescribe the treatment and therapy specific for my type of tumor,” Thompson said.
Meanwhile for patients like Thompson, the breakthrough, even if it will only affect future patients, is a welcome one.