Breast cancer is a disorder that develops when malignant cells overrun normal breast cells. Its key symptoms include bloody discharge from nipples, lumps in breasts, and changes in form, and color of nipples & breasts. Early detection of breast cancer is crucial as it may stop the disease from progressing to a severe stage and guarantee a successful treatment. Mammography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, and other screening techniques are employed to diagnose breast cancer. The main objective of screening is to find the disease at the earliest & most curable stage possible.
The mounting prevalence of breast cancer worldwide is augmenting the need for its effective therapeutics, owing to which rigorous R&D is going on to bring novel pharmaceutical drugs and innovations in the treatment technology. Considering these aspects, coupled with increased awareness among people about the potential surgical choices and treatment modalities, a recent study published by MarkNtel Advisors has revealed that the global breast cancer market is set to record around 8.6% CAGR during 2022-27.
Breast cancer therapeutics involves how the disease is treated or managed by utilizing therapies & medications such as hormone therapy, chemotherapy, & targeted therapy, among others. These medications prevent malignant cells from growing by interfering with specific proteins or DNA. Moving further, let’s look at the various types of breast cancer & its different stages.
What are the different stages of Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer stages are based most commonly on the TNM system, which involves both pathologic & clinical staging. In this system, the following are the key aspects:
- T represents the primary size of the tumor
- N determines if cancer has spread to lymph nodes
- M is for knowing if cancer has disseminated outside the breast & lymph nodes to distant sites like the liver or lungs
Now, within the T staging, T0 represents no evidence of primary tumor; Tis is Carcinoma In Situ, T1 is the tumor of size 2 cm or less; T2 is more than 2 cm but less than 5 cm, T3 is more than 5 cm, and T4 is the tumor of any size growing into the chest wall or skin.
Similarly, we have it for N staging that includes N0, i.e., no tumor has spread to nearby lymph nodes), N1-spread to 1 to 3 axillary lymph nodes or found in internal mammary lymph nodes), and N2– either cancer has spread across 4 to 9 lymph nodes under the arm or has enlarged the internal mammary lymph nodes.
Moreover, the N3a stage is when either cancer has spread to ≥10 axillary lymph nodes or those under the collarbone, with at least one area of cancer spread greater than 2 mm, N3b-either found in at least one axillary lymph node and has enlarged the internal mammary lymph nodes or has spread to 4 or more axillary lymph nodes & to the internal mammary lymph nodes, and lastly, N3c, which depicts that cancer has spread to lymph nodes above the collarbone, with at least one area of cancer spread greater than 2 mm.
Furthermore, M0 is no cancer spread has been found through X-rays or other imaging tests. On the other hand, cM0(i+) is when small cancer cells are either found in blood/bone marrow through special tests or in lymph nodes away from the underarm, collarbone, or internal mammary areas)and M1 represents cancer larger than 0.2mm that has spread to distant organs like bones, lungs, brain, or liver.
Governments worldwide are raising awareness among people about the availability of different treatment options for breast cancer, developing new screening programs, and hosting free camps in order to reduce mortality rates. Besides, healthcare authorities are also making active efforts toward easing breast cancer treatments.
There are various ongoing research activities in the field of oncology and also for developing biomarkers. All these aspects cite an enormous potential for the leading biopharma companies operating in the industry due to the rising demand for cutting-edge therapeutic medications and the robust drug development pipeline.
What does the future hold for biopharma companies operating in the Breast Cancer Industry?
In recent years, more & more treatment options & targeted therapies, along with the shift of healthcare professionals from applying all-inclusive treatments to disease-specific therapeutics, have improved outcomes in patients with breast cancer. However, the path continues as more work is required.
Better diagnosis to detect breast cancer; improved targeted therapies & ways to determine aggressive tumors & deliver patient-centric treatments; more funding in research activities; and more & more women willing to undergo clinical trials shall altogether result in a massive expansion of the breast cancer market in the coming years.