This health video is focusing on the things you can do for your health to help curb the recurrence of breast cancer.
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Dr. Dean Edell: Each year more than 200,000 American women are diagnosed with breast cancer, 40,000 die. For those who survive, there is always fear that the cancer will return. Now there are many medications that can help stop the recurrence and spread of cancer. A generation ago the diagnosis of breast cancer almost always meant disfiguring surgery. Female Speaker: My mother is a breast cancer survivor. Dr. Dean Edell: And sickening drugs. Audrey Dickenson: They have lost their hair, they just look like they're just having a really, really hard time. Dr. Dean Edell: Well, today that diagnosis is no less dreaded. Anne Sullivan: The hardest time is when you get the call from the doctor saying there is something suspicious and she told me that it was cancer. Female Speaker: Your mind does fast-forward and you think, would I be here when I have grandchildren. Will I see my children married? Dr. Dean Edell: There are now treatments that are more targeted and better at keeping cancer from coming back. Anne Sullivan: It's a little thing in the back of your mind and you just hope it doesn't happen. Dr. Dean Edell: More than 20 years ago, a breakthrough using the drug Tamoxifen gave women with breast cancer new hope. Michael Roberts: When they took Tamoxifen that the odds of getting breast cancer in the contralateral or the other side decreased substantially. Dr. Dean Edell: Tamoxifen is an anti-estrogen drug. Some cancers need estrogen to grow. Tamoxifen attaches itself to cancer cells and acts as an estrogen block, so tumors can't grow. Dr. Pamela Munster: The decrease in mortality is clearly because of newer drugs. Dr. Dean Edell: There is another class of drugs that also fights that same type of estrogen relying cancer. Dr. Pamela Munster: What the Aromatase Inhibitor do, they selectively block that on the estrogen level, so there would be fewer estrogen produced in the body. Dr. Dean Edell: Aromatase Inhibitors or AIs are primarily used by postmenopausal women like Anne Sullivan. Anne Sullivan: It is to reduce any of the estrogen that I might still have in my body to keep cancer recurring. Dr. Dean Edell: How do doctors decide between Tamoxifen or Aromatase Inhibitor? Dr. Pamela Munster: In a postmenopausal women, we know the Aromatase Inhibitors are better and the side effect profile is a little bit different. Dr. Dean Edell: What are the risks? Dr. Pamela Munster: If a woman is at a very high risk for osteoporosis, we would not used an Aromatase Inhibitor. Dr. Dean Edell: Anne takes Fosamax to counter the bone loss side effect. After weighing the odds, she followed the advice of her nurse. Anne Sullivan: She said, "If it was me, I would take it." because it could be worse the next time. Dr. Dean Edell: Despite breast cancer, Audrey Dickenson is still in the game. Audrey Dickenson: They expect that I'm going to be just feeling miserable. And life has just been going on as usual. Dr. Dean Edell: Audrey is taking part in a clinical trial to test another new therapy for breast cancer. Doctors gave her a combination of two drugs, herceptin and bevacizumab. Rebecca Moroose: Our hope is that by using very effective, very logical combinations of treatment, that do not have the side effects of chemotherapy, that a patient will live and do well and have a better quality of life while undergoing cancer treatment. Dr. Dean Edell: The drugs work to individually target the different proteins that cause tumors to spread. Rebecca Moroose: We are looking at the molecular signature, at the biological profile of each individual's cancer cell. Dr. Dean Edell: Researchers hope the combo turns out to be as effective chemotherapy and without the side effects like nausea, fatigue and hair loss. Theresa Benton has struggled with breast cancer for five years. Theresa Benton: I was clear for a year and then I just found this little spot and I said, let me just go and let the doctor check it. Dr. Dean Edell: When cancer returned, this time i