SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – While Olivia Newton-John was known for her contributions to film and music, she was also known as an advocate for breast cancer awareness after she received her first diagnosis in 1992.
22News asked local doctors about how cancer research has evolved since then and what work still needs to be done.
“She really did advocate for individuals to get access to cutting edge, standard medical treatment which are so important,” said Doctor Amy Comander Director, Breast Oncology with Mass General Cancer Center at Newton-Wellesley.
She said about 7,000 people in Massachusetts will be diagnosed with breast cancer each year.
Doctor Grace Makari-Judson, the Medical Director, Baystate Regional Cancer Program, said they see close to 500 new diagnoses for breast cancer there a year. She said treatment has evolved for breast cancer before it was just chemotherapy and hormone treatments.
“Now we have chemotherapy, hormone treatment, immunotherapy, targeted treatment and a new class of drugs called antibody drug conjugate that are highly effective in certain subsets of breast cancer,” Doctor Grace Makari-Judson said.
When it comes to advancements in breast cancer research, Doctor Grace Makari-Judson told 22News one of their goals is not only for their patients to survive, but how to do more with less.
“Can we get as good a response with less invasive treatments, with less chemotherapy?” she added.
Looking forward, Doctor Comander hopes patients with advanced breast cancer can live with it as a chronic disease for many years.
“I do think we’re going to get there with all of the exciting research developments that we’ve even seen just in the past few years,” she told 22News.
Also in the last few years, doctors have gotten better at determining the different kinds of breast cancer, helping the specialize treatment.