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Progress in breast and prostate cancer research

By Mealla Logue on April 20, 2012

Over the past few days, some very important developments in both breast and prostate cancer research have been widely reported in the media.

In relation to breast cancer,  Cancer Research UK scientists have recently been able to genetically map the disease.  This exercise determined that, far from being a single disease, breast cancer can be classified into ten different types.  The study was also able to identify several new genes that determine the level of aggression of the cancer.

Although this new research will unfortunately not make an immediate difference to those diagnosed with breast cancer, it is hoped that in the future these findings will enable doctors to offer more accurate diagnoses and individually tailored treatments to their patients.

A small study of a new prostate cancer treatment, carried out at University College London, has also hit the headlines in recent days.

Standard therapy for prostate cancer currently involves treating the whole prostate Рeither with radiotherapy or by removing it surgically.  Both methods can cause damage to surrounding healthy tissue leading to side effects such as urinary incontinence or impotence.

The new treatment involves using a high intensity focused ultrasound to treat areas of cancer that are only millimetres in size, and it is called focal therapy.  The study found that a year after treatment, none of the 41 men in the trial had urinary incontinence and only one in ten suffered from impotence.  Ninety five percent were also cancer free after the year.

We hope that these pioneering scientists continue to make these forward strides in the treatment of these two terrible diseases, the most common cancers in women and men respectively.

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