Breast Cancer Treatment Improving

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Breast cancer is the most common diagnosis of cancer in women. Statistically, doctors say over the course of a woman's lifetime, they have about a one in eight chance of developing the cancer.

"Last year, the estimate in the Brazos Valley were that just over 130 women would be diagnosed with breast cancer in the Brazos Valley in one year," Dr. Erin Fleener an oncologist with the Cancer Clinic in Bryan said. "Statistically, nationwide, over 200,000 women every year are diagnosed with breast cancer."

Doctors say early detection is key. That's why they advise women over 40 to have a mammogram once a year, and to perform self exams at least once a month.

"Even if you're young and you find a lump in your breast, call your doctor and usually, your doctor will order a mammogram first," Fleener said. "Generally, that's the first screening test. Many times, that's followed up with an ultra sound and then a biopsy."

Doctors say they're able to cure about 80 percent of people with breast cancer since many patients and physicians are catching the cancer early on.

Although surgery is often the standard treatment, over the years much has changed.

"Nowadays, were able to do smaller surgeries. People are recovering faster, and the plastic surgeons for breast reconstruction are really impressive," Fleener said.

New research continues to make new options available to patients.

"Not only are we doing a lot better curing people because of the treatment we give after the surgery, chemotherapy has really improved over time," Fleener said. "We are adding drugs that we didn't use to give, and we also now have anti-bodies which are proteins that attack cancer cells."

Health experts say some hormonal treatments can now even be used as a preventative option for high risk women who have a family history of the disease.