Meredith Cronin and Erini Bonou-Price have something in common.
“I’m a breast cancer survivor,” says Erini Bonoy-Price.
“When they did the lumpectomy is when they found the cancer,” says Meredith Cronin, breast cancer survivor.
Both women had breast cancer, but it doesn’t mean they had the same cancer.
“Something that’s been known in the oncology arena is that breast cancer doesn’t represent just one disease. There are other faces of it. Some of which behave better and worse then others and that the different ways that they are treated can sometimes be dramatically different,” says Dr. Scott Dunbar, an oncologist on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.
That theory is now backed up by a massive research project called the cancer genome atlas. The national institute of health recently finished mapping all the genetic variances in breast cancer.
This huge genome project is taking breast cancer down to the molecular level. Understanding each cancer mutation will help doctors develop better treatments.
“Being able in the future to offer more tailored, individual care to a woman’s cancer, based on the profile or its expression, personality, that the genes will tell us,” says Dr. Dunbar.
Already, the research yielded one surprise. That one of the most deadly forms of breast cancer, known as triple negative, is genetically closer to ovarian cancer than other breast cancers.
“Which may allow of management and treatment with chemotherapy regimens which have been developed to treat ovarian cancer which has been a lot less toxic then some of the traditional breast cancer regimens,” says Dr. Dunbar.
So this cellular super-sleuthing is helping unlock the mystery of breast cancer.
“I am the first person, from my mother’s and my father’s family to have any type of cancer,” says Bonou-Price.
“And hopefully I won’t ever have to deal with it again,” says Cronin.
Taking the disease, and making it personal.