According to BreastCancer.org, “For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.”; moreover, “1 in 8 U.S. women (12%) are expected to develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.” This grave issue is particularly important to me because a little less than two years ago, my aunt suffered a third recurrence of breast cancer that resulted in her passing away. When she was initially diagnosed (approximately 15 years ago), everyone in the family was extremely surprised–though the precise causes of breast cancer are still unknown, my aunt did not seem to be at especially high risk for developing breast cancer (i.e. she maintained a very healthy diet, there was absolutely no family history of breast cancer, etc.).
Arguably some of the most frustrating things faced during my aunt’s final recurrence of breast cancer were complications with treatment/ medication and lack of detection. I can’t help but wonder if this was due to less diligence in care following remission, difficulty with covering subsequent costs of treatment, or a combination of the two. This is yet another fact that frustrates me–all too often, financing such astronomical medical expenses poses significant obstacles for both patients as well as their families, and countless unnecessary deaths occur as a result of insufficient funds for medical treatment/ the continuation of medical treatment. Thus, I believe there needs to be an affordable healthcare innovation that targets cancer cells and not healthy cells. Maybe this could be accomplished by developing a pill containing some compound that only binds to cancer cells in addition to another orally delivered form (i.e. a pill) of chemotherapy that includes a compound that is attracted to the previously administered compound as well as antimetabolites, which according to the American Cancer Society, “interfere with DNA and RNA growth by substituting for the normal building blocks of RNA and DNA. These agents damage cells during the phase when the cell’s chromosomes are being copied. They are commonly used to treat leukemias, cancers of the breast, ovary, and the intestinal tract, as well as other types of cancer.”