1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer, 95 percent now survive it

Eyewitness News is talking cancer this year as part of a series we’re calling “Conversations about Cancer” to get people thinking about screenings.
Published: Apr. 14, 2022 at 8:57 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - New advancements in breast cancer treatment mean more women than ever are surviving it, but catching it early is key.

“Without a doubt, breast cancer is common and that’s the problem. We’re going to unfortunately see a quarter million women be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. I think the biggest advances have been in fine-tuning early detection,” said Doctor Pavan Reddy with Cancer Center of Kansas in Wichita.

Eyewitness News is talking cancer this year as part of a series we’re calling “Conversations about Cancer” to get people thinking about screenings. We will also explore new treatments that are saving lives right here in Kansas.

Karrina Brasser caught her cancer in the early stages, thanks to a preventive surgery.

“I mean, I thought I was ahead of the game, I wasn’t going to get this. Now I have the same kind that can come back and so, this is the rest of my life, I’m going to deal with this,” said Brasser who had a double preventive mastectomy due to a family history of cancer. “It was a very good decision. I had a mammogram on September 30 and by November 4, I had a pretty large tumor on the right side.”

Brasser said doctors found the tumor and cleared the margins.

Dr. Reddy advised to pay attention to stories like Brasser’s. It’s because she paid attention to her family history that she’s alive today.

“We were doing well, but unfortunately the Covid pandemic put us behind. We’ve seen more women with advanced breast cancer in the last two years than I’ve seen in the last five to 10 years. I think the tide is turning. We’ve got more and more women going back for their mammography,” said Dr. Reddy. Reddy said treatment options are also improving.

“It’s exciting as an oncologist to see we have more ammunition, but I also feel like the key is getting it to the patients,” he said. “One of the fundamental understandings that has changed when it comes to breast cancer is that although we call it breast cancer, it’s a collection of different types of cancer starting in the breast. Understanding that is the key because we have treatments now that can target a specific type of breast cancer.”

Dr. Reddy says the results from new targeted therapies are extremely promising and he’s even more excited about the future. “When it comes to HER2-positive breast cancer, where the prognosis was poor before, we had anti-HER2 targeting drugs. Now you catch it stage one or stage two, you’re looking at 90 plus percent cure rates,” he said.

Brasser is here today for two reasons. She took action and advancements in treatment options. “I think we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg,” said Dr. Reddy. Brasser still has months of treatment and surgeries ahead but is now focuses on living her life for those who depend in her the most. “You have dark days, but you have to get through it and you have to move on. I do get emotional sometimes, mostly because of my boys,” she said. “When your boys cry, you’re like ‘okay,’ but I just try to be honest with them and say I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I’m never going to give up. I’m never going to quit fighting and I think that helps them be more positive about it.”

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