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Breast Cancer: One Size Does Not Fit All

October 22, 2008

Nashville, TN – Recent research brings new perspective to old ideas about breast cancer. The Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center says that the most-effective approach to increasing survival rates is personalized, non-standardized treatment. During this Breast Cancer Awareness Month, women's health advocates are also encouraging women to trust their instincts during self-exams, because early detection is the key to survival.

Dr. Ingrid Meszoely, clinical director of the Vanderbilt Breast Center, says doctors are now learning to identify a patient's cancer profile and then design a course of treatment that is individualized.

"We now recognize it's an extremely heterogeneous disease, it's different for every individual, and the treatment is now going to be very different for each patient."

Because of technological advances, doctors can now consider a patient's genetic makeup to help find the best treatment, according to Meszoely. This means no two women will have exactly the same course of treatment.

Ginny Moore, nurse practitioner at Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee, says it's important for women to trust themselves and move quickly when they suspect something is wrong.

"You need to trust yourself, trust your instinct. If you ever have that feeling that something isn't right, even if you were in for your exam just last week or last month, go back. "

Doctors say breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women and early detection is one way a woman can improve her chances of survival.

Barbara Dab/Steve Powers, Public News Service - TN