GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — Nearly 30% of all breast cancers that return are metastatic, according to the American Cancer Society. Put in simpler terms -- there is no cure.
"They have a limited time -- we want it to be as long as possible, we want it to be as good as possible," Dr. Amy Vanderwoude said, she is an oncologist with Spectrum Health and always on the lookout for new therapies to treat metastatic cancers.
"We really want to help women live with [metastatic cancers] and feel better while they're living with that," Dr. Vanderwoude went on to say. And thanks to new breakthroughs in the past 10 years -- women are living with metastatic breast cancer. .
"I think the approval process has improved and new drugs are coming out," Dr. Vanderwoude explained. Because of these breakthroughs many women are now able to extend their lives past the three year life expectancy that was considered standard.
"I think there's more focus on the patient, instead of just the disease now," Dr. Vanderwoude went on to say. Because of that, more clinical trials have become available for metastatic breast cancer patients. "They may be candidates for an investigational trial with all the new drugs."
Many of those trials are happening right here in West Michigan at Start Midwest, a cancer treatment center in Grand Rapids. They are only life extending treatments at this current time, the hope is one of them will lead to a cure.
"I think that they are our most worthy patient population. We don't have all the solutions, but I think it might be our most challenging population to provide the best care for them," Dr. Vanderwoude explained. "So, we know what to do, but we need more things that we can do."
Until then, more research, more clinical trials, and more awareness are the best ways to help extend the lives of women living with metastatic breast cancer.
You can read more about the specific new drugs on the market for metastatic breast cancer here.
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