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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Can We Find a Cure for Breast Cancer?

Does that mean the development of a vaccine that will prevent an individual from ever having breast cancer?   Would there have to be lots of different vaccines because there are multiple types of breast cancer? Would there be a pill or a machine that would nullify cancer cells, or disarm them somehow? What will a cure look like? And when will it happen?                

When a normal cell divides, the cell's DNA is copied more or less perfectly. But each division of a cancer cell brings about new changes in the DNA. So a drug might be able to kill some but not all of the cancer because each cell is a little different. 

Another problem is inherent in the ability of a cancer stem cell to hide. Chemotherapy might effectively kill an entire tumor, but cancer stem cells might evade the drugs and cause a relapse of the cancer years later. In a sense we cure breast cancer today. The problem is when somebody is diagnosed with breast cancer, we can't tell that woman that she is cured, until she dies at 95 of something else. So, we know we cure breast cancer, but we never know if any one particular person is cured at any one time.

So where does this leave us?  We are without a cure that we can point to, and women are dying everyday. Does that mean we give up? We can't. We made a promise to end breast cancer forever. 


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