Fighting breast cancer in more ways than one

October 7, 2011 2:45:04 PM PDT
A massage, a manicure and a mammogram?

Mammogram parties attended by women across the country take out the fear.

"We would like to see more women come out and participate in screening mammography. It saves lives," Mickey Jester, MD Radiologist Provena St. Joseph's Medical Center, said.

But mammograms could one day be obsolete as the only mode of detection.

An experimental breakthrough breath test at Georgia Tech measures organic compounds breathed out from the lungs and identifies those associated with breast cancer.

"A patient could be told right away, 'Yes, it looks like something's there,'" Sheryl Gabram, MD Breast Surgical Oncologist at Emory Winship Cancer Institute, said.

Immunologist Vincent Tuohy hopes to kill breast cancer even before it can be found on a mammogram or in a breath test.

"I thought the best thing to do is to try and prevent the tumor to appear to begin with," Tuohy said.

Tuohy developed the very first breast cancer vaccine at the Cleveland Clinic.

"We targeted a self-protein that is expressed in most breast cancers but not in normal breast tissue," he said.

In his research in the lab, the vaccine prevented the disease in 100 percent of the cases. The idea is to give this to women in their forties and fifties when they are most at risk of developing breast cancer.

"It's a giant deficiency in our health care. I think once I point it out, everyone says, 'Yeah, you're right,' but we haven't done a thing about it," Tuohy said.

That is until now, and it could change the lives and save the lives of women around the world.