According to the National Cancer Institute’s SEER program, the 5-year relative survival rate for breast cancer is approximately 89.2 percent.
Those are good odds, and good news for women facing a breast cancer diagnosis. But such progress in the treatment of breast cancer has created an optimistic mythology that "Nobody dies of breast cancer anymore."
However, someone with stage IV, or metastatic, breast cancer has only a 25 percent chance of being alive five years after diagnosis.
In a recent EmpowHer article, I addressed the chronic lack of funding for metastatic breast cancer research.
Despite a dearth of funding, the research into stage IV breast cancer is yielding promising developments.
1) Chemo-resistant Cancer Cells Meet Their Match
Antoinette Tan, M.D. explained in an article in MedPage Today that breast cancer is heterogeneous, or diverse in character or cause, so no one treatment option fits every woman’s diagnosis. When cancer becomes resistant or non-responsive to the treatments available, the prognosis is terminal.
Chemotherapy works by creating lesions in cancer cells, eventually causing cell death. Cancer becomes resistant when the body’s natural processes fight to repair these cancerous cells. Researchers are working on a way to prevent cancer cells from repairing themselves.
Medical News Today reported, "As chemotherapy works by inducing lesions in the DNA of cancer cells, tumors would become less resistant to the treatment if their cells are unable to repair this DNA damage."
Spironolactone, a drug already used for the treatment of hypertension, has proven effective in blocking DNA repair mechanisms. Prevent cell repair, and cancer cells will continue to succumb to chemotherapy.