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Beating Breast Cancer

Olivia Putnal | September 27, 2013 | Articles

According to the American Cancer Society, about 12 percent of American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime—a sobering stat, but one marking a steady decrease since 2000. Now, combine this with advancements in Atlanta and elsewhere, and there’s hope on the horizon. Here, local docs bring you up to speed on three recent developments that are kicking cancer to the curb.

Kadcyla (Targeted Therapy) Kadcyla is intended to treat patients with noncurable, but treatable HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer who have received trastuzumab and taxane therapies together or separately. Used in combination with chemo, Kadcyla is a less toxic treatment for patients in serious stages of breast cancer, a claim substantiated by Hillary A. Hahm, M.D., Ph.D., of Northwest Georgia Oncology Centers in Marietta. And, when tested in Genentech’s ongoing EMILIA Trial in 2013, Kadcyla proved less toxic than previous treatments; it also produced a higher patient response. “Kadcyla has changed the way we manage breast cancer,” says Dr. Hahm, whose patient Ann Wertz credits the treatment—which she started in 2011, after breast cancer diagnoses in 2005 and 2008 (the latter metastatic)—with greatly improving her quality of life, calling it a “godsend” that “keeps my body [from the neck down] cancer-free with minimal side effects.”

Vitamin D (Preventative Therapy) “If we give Vitamin D to individuals for four years at a cost of $10 or less for a six month supply, we can reduce [their] chances of ever getting breast cancer by 77 percent,” explains Dr. Ellie Campbell, DO, of Campbell Family Medicine in Cumming, of the unconventional preventative measure. Exhibit A: Joyce Orchard. Diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ in 2006, she endured a lumpectomy, radiation and a physician-prescribed hormone therapy drug before finding Dr. Campbell, whose complete checkup revealed that Orchard was Vitamin D deficient and gluten intolerant (both culprits of poor bone density and increased cancer risk.) In went the Vitamin D3, out went the gluten, and Orchard is now cancer-free, participating in DeKalb Medical Center’s research and still taking supplements. But don’t just take our word for it: Results from a 2007 study conducted by Joan Lappe, Ph.D., RN from Creighton University prompted her to reveal, “Vitamin D is a critical tool in fighting cancer, as well as many other diseases.”

Proton Therapy (Radiation Oncology) In May 2013, construction began on the Emory Proton Therapy Center in Midtown, which, in 2016, expects to treat 2,000 patients with its namesake innovation. After all, says Chad A. Levitt, M.D., of Radiotherapy Associates of Forsyth, “The most cutting-edge integrative oncology incorporates the advances in radiation oncology, such as proton therapy,” which he defines as “the leading edge of radiation therapy.” The arrival of the Emory facility will also mark a Georgia first—nowhere else in the state is proton therapy available. Even more amazing, Dr. Levitt adds, the therapy—for “patients who receive accelerated partial breast irradiation”—makes it possible to treat “only the portion affected and surgically managed,” not the entire breast.


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