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At our National Cancer Information Center trained Cancer Information Specialists can answer questions 24 hours a day, every day of the year to empower you with accurate, up-to-date information to help you make educated health decisions. We connect patients, caregivers, and family members with valuable services and resources.
Or ask us how you can get involved and support the fight against cancer. Some of the topics we can assist with include:
For medical questions, we encourage you to review our information with your doctor.
Researchers around the world are working to find better ways to prevent, detect, and treat breast cancer, and to improve the quality of life of patients and survivors.
Current guidance on preventing and treating breast cancer as well as what might cause it (among other things) has come mainly from information discovered from research studies. Research studies can range from studies done in the lab to clinical trials done with hundreds of thousands of people. Clinical trials are carefully controlled studies that can gather specific information about certain diseases as well as explore promising new treatments.
Clinical trials are one way to get the latest cancer treatments that are being investigated. Still, they are not right for everyone. If you would like to learn more about clinical trials that might be right for you, start by asking your doctor if your clinic or hospital conducts clinical trials, or see Clinical Trials to learn more.
Studies continue to look at how certain lifestyle factors, habits, and other environmental factors, as well as inherited gene changes, might affect breast cancer risk. Here are a few examples:
Researchers are looking for ways to help reduce breast cancer risk, especially for women who are at high risk. Here are some examples:
Breast cancer tissue is routinely tested for the biomarkers ER, PR, and HER2 to help make treatment decisions. A biomarker is any gene, protein, or other substance that can be measured in blood, tissues, or other body fluids.
Circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) is DNA that is released into the bloodstream when cancer cells die. Identifying and testing the ctDNA in the blood for biomarkers is a rapidly growing area of study.
Some ways ctDNA might potentially be used in breast cancer including:
Newer types of tests are being developed for breast imaging. Some of these are already being used in certain situations, while others are still being studied. It will take time to see if they are as good as or better than those used today. Some of these tests include:
For more on these tests, see Newer and Experimental Breast Imaging Tests.
New kinds of treatments for breast cancer are always being studied. For example, in recent years, several new targeted drugs have been approved to treat breast cancer.
But more and better treatment options are needed, especially for cancers like triple-negative breast cancer, where chemotherapy is the main option.
Some areas of research involving breast cancer treatment include:
Supportive care helps patients and caregivers manage the symptoms of cancer and side effects of cancer treatment. Clinical trials are looking at different medicines and techniques to try to improve supportive care for people with breast cancer. For example, some studies are investigating:
The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
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National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/clinical-trials/search. Testing the Addition of a Blood Pressure Medication, Carvedilol, to HER-2 Targeted Therapy for Metastatic Breast Cancer to Prevent Cardiac Toxicity. Accessed August 15, 2019.
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Last Revised: January 25, 2022
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