Impatient Science: New Horizons
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Rip Media Group has collaborated with the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, a breast cancer research charity, to create educational explainer videos for breast cancer patients and their loved ones. Each blog post in this four-article series has focused on different aspects of breast cancer, as well as patients’ experiences. This post is the final post in the series, and focuses on new research possibilities.
Part 1 of the Impatient Science series introduced us to L, the daughter of a breast cancer patient. Over the course of the discussion regarding her mother, L has seemed pensive and distracted. A cancer diagnosis in the family is a serious issue, after all. But as she’s watching the videos and speaking to us, she’s slowly growing more hopeful, and as the discussion turns to research, there’s a brightness in her eyes.
“I know my risk for breast cancer is elevated, due to my mother’s disease,” she says. “But I have a lot of hope. Just in the last several years, there have been so many advances in how we diagnose and treat breast cancer. Researchers are working hard to develop new diagnosis methods and treatments. If I develop the disease when I’m older, I have a lot of faith it’ll be diagnosed faster, treated more effectively — and maybe even cured.”
Researchers have been studying breast cancers for over a hundred years. Today, researchers spend over $1 billion each year, in the U.S. alone, to study breast cancer.
The Impatient Science videos describe several types of breast cancer research. Scientific research, also known as evidence-based medicine, takes place on several levels. For instance, so-called “basic” or bench research tries to understand the microbiology of the cell itself. It usually takes place in Petri dishes, or on rats or mice, rather than human subjects. As the videos state, this research can only go so far in helping us understand how cancer develops in humans. However, the information gleaned from these studies combines with other research, with genuinely useful results.
Take a look at this video to see what we’re talking about.
When basic research shows promise, researchers may apply what it discovers to human volunteers. This is called clinical research, and its focus may be much broader than bench research. It may focus on aspects such as lifestyle changes that affect cancer development, diagnostic methods or treatments. As the video series notes, patients may be assigned to random groups, which determine what treatments they receive.
Epidemiology is a research field that examines trends in large populations, to figure out which factors may cause or prevent cancer. Epidemiologists have successfully identified several potential carcinogens — for example, hormone use in post-menopausal women.
Potential Treatments, and Getting Involved
When researchers are examining a treatment’s potential, they examine more than just its positive effects. They’re very interested in any side-effects or collateral damage a treatment has. If a treatment is too dangerous, they’ll remove it from consideration as a cancer treatment: it simply isn’t worth the cost. This protects patients and their families.
Videos like the Impatient Science series don’t just educate patients and their families — they drum up interest in and support for research. If these videos have sparked your interest and you feel inclined to participate in breast cancer research yourself, you might consider signing up for the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation’s Army of Women project. This project is open to all people — from all genders, with or without breast cancer — and it refers them to vital research studies that have the potential to save lives.
This concludes the Impatient Science series for the month of October. If you’re interested in watching the series in its entirety, please click here. If you’d like to offer your support of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, please visit https://www.drsusanloveresearch.org/ to donate.
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