Doctors say one out of eight women in the U.S. has breast cancer. About 75 women in Kern County alone died from the disease last year.
A new study by the National Institutes of Health shows similarities between certain breast and ovarian cancers. Its findings are expected to lead to new treatments with drugs already on the market for other cancers.
"This is a very significant finding because now, all of a sudden, medicines that we have available for ovarian cancer also can be tried in this type of breast cancer because they seem to have genes which are similar in nature," says Dr. Ravi Patel, Medical Director, Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center in Bakersfield.
Researchers found one of the deadliest types of breast cancer is actually closer, genetically, to a kind of ovarian cancer than it is to other cancers originating in the breast.
“The triple-negative breast cancer has been difficult to treat, and, therefore, the connection to identify that to be linked to ovarian cancer is very important, that until now, was not very well known," said Dr. Patel.
Tiffani Hernandez knows firsthand the difficulty in treating breast cancer. She was diagnosed in 2005. "Oh, it just turned my world upside down," Hernandez says.
This month marks seven years she's been cancer free. She says breakthroughs like the study in cancer research are encouraging.
"For someone going through that, where their hope's exhausted or all the other treatments have failed or whatever, I just think that it gives them more hope,” she says. “More encouragement that there are other options."
The study identified four genetically distinct types of breast cancer. It is available online at: www.cancergenome.nih.gov