Breast Cancer- Pharmacist
With breast cancer so often in the news, it is easy to forget that the diagnosis is an emotional and life-changing event for an individual patient. In the United States (US), an estimated 231,840 women and 2,350 men1 were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in 2015. One in every 8 women in the US will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime. In contrast, a man’s lifetime risk is about 1 in 1000. Following skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women. During recent years, the incidence of breast cancer has been stable for Caucasian women; however, it has increased slightly for African-American women, due in part to longer life expectancy and improved screening and detection. Because of earlier detection and improved treatment, the death rate for breast cancer in the US has declined since 19891; however, it is still the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer. In 2015, an estimated 40,290 women will die from breast cancer. Over the past decade, the treatment options for breast cancer have expanded, especially for advanced disease. One area of progress that has made an impact in the community setting is the development of new oral medications for advanced disease. This issue provides an overview of breast cancer in women, with a focus on the use of newer, oral agents for the treatment of advanced disease. Along with surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and hormonal (anti-estrogen) therapy, the use of targeted agents has become routine in the fight against breast cancer. Healthcare providers, including pharmacists, have an obligation to be well informed about these agents – especially the oral drugs – in order to adequately support patients in the community setting.