Medical Minute 4-12: Two Breast Cancer Breakthroughs

By: Melissa Medalie Email
By: Melissa Medalie Email

Pamela Peterburs thought she had her life mapped out until her path abruptly changed.

"It did not show up on a monthly mammogram, and to me that underscores how valuable it is doing your self breast exams," said Peterburs.

Doctor Anne Wallace is making sure the cancer didn't spread to the lymph nodes, the first place cancer may go.

"You can take a picture and actually see where the lymph node is," said Anne Wallace, M.D., Professor of Clinical Surgery.

Doctors are using a new molecule called lymphoseek to find the right lymph nodes to test. It lights up the area, helping doctors see the nodes that need to be biopsied for possible cancer.

"Taking all those out, which is standard, can lead to more arm swelling, pain and difficulty with healing and long-term range of motion," said Dr. Wallace.

It's also been an uphill battle for Eileen Kastura.

"I did last year 20 weeks of chemo, went through radiation and three surgeries," said Kastura.

She was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.

"Much more aggressive, much more resistant to chemo, and outcomes are not as good," said Dana Zakalik, M.D., Director of Beaumont Cancer Genetics Program.

Eileen is using a new type of drug called parp inhibitors. It blocks a cancer cell's ability to repair its own DNA.

"By blocking that enzyme, the cell dies off. It can't repair itself," said Dr. Zakalik.

In one study a parp inhibitor improved survival by 60% when added to a chemo routine. In stage-four cancer patients like Eileen, tumors shrank by 48%.

"The fact that it prolongs survival is huge, because for a drug to prolong survival means that it's making a big impact on the biology of the cancer," said Dana Zakalik, M.D.

"I'm still a mom of two girls and still working two days a week and stay busy," said Kastura.

"I feel great. I really do. I feel healthy," said Peterburs.

Two new techniques to help women to beat the odds.

For more information: Ivanhoe Broadcast News2745 W. Fairbanks Ave.Winter Park, FL 32789 Melissa Medalie, Supervising Producer Medical Newsmmedalie@ivanhoe.comDirect Line: (407) 691-1516Viewer Line: (407) 740-0789 ext. 579

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