Skip to content

Breast Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Breast Cancer: Closer to a Cure

Susan Love, MD, says we're making progress in the war on breast cancer
By
WebMD Magazine - Feature

This September marks the 21st annual breast cancerawareness month, so who better to ask about where we are in the war on this disease than Susan Love, MD?

At the forefront of breast cancerresearch for almost 30 years, Love is the medical director of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation in Pacific Palisades, Calif., and a clinical professor of surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She also penned the bible of breast care books, Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book.

Recommended Related to Breast Cancer

Me and the Girls: Jenee Bobbora

 WebMD senior writer Miranda Hitti interviewed breast cancer survivors as part of a series for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The series, called “Me & the Girls,” explores the personal stories of these women after they were diagnosed with breast cancer. Breast cancer survivor Jenee Bobbora, 39, lives in the Houston area. When she was 32 years old, Bobbora says she woke up one day with a painfully swollen left breast. She consulted her gynecologist, thinking it might be because...

Read the Me and the Girls: Jenee Bobbora article > >

The good news is that we're making strides, Love says. Big ones. She is confident that researchers will find a cure for the cancer estimated to take the lives of nearly 40,000 women and more than 450 men in 2006.

Here's why: Doctors used to think of breast cancer as one disease with one treatment. Not anymore. Today, "we are realizing that all breast cancer is not the same, and there are six different types based on the genetic material [DNA] patterns," she says.

This means a new approach to treatment. "Instead of one-size-fits-all treatment, we will start doing targeted therapies to match the tumor," Love says. "Breast cancer treatments will be like trying to buy a dress. Everybody doesn't fit into a size 12, and now we are saying certain-sized dresses are better for certain-sized women."

And that's just the tip of the iceberg, according to Love. A new genetic test can study genes within a tumor and determine whether the cancer will need chemotherapy.

Earlier detection and prevention are also high on Love's priority list. She has been spearheading a new procedure called ductal lavage, which can provide an earlier diagnosis of cancerous and precancerous cells in the breast's milk ducts. All breast cancers start in the milk ducts, so spotting them here may help with earlier detection.

The bottom line, according to Love: "I think we are getting closer to a cure, but we need to focus on prevention and earlier diagnosis."

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
 
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
 
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
VIDEO
Resolved To Quit Smoking
SLIDESHOW
 
Woman getting mammogram
Article
Screening Tests for Women
SLIDESHOW
 
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
serious woman
Article
 
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow
SLIDESHOW