Remember Linda McCartney
- Legendary Beatles member Paul McCartney lost his wife Linda McCartney in 1998 after her three-year battle with breast cancer.
- At the time of her diagnosis, it had already spread to other parts of her body.
- Breast cancer treatments have made incredible advances since Linda battled the disease. Today, the average 5-year survival rate for people with non-metastatic invasive breast cancer is 90%.
- Since 1998, when Linda passed, the way doctors view breast cancer has evolved.
- It’s now thought of as not just one, but as many diseases. Women are evaluated for genetics, hormones, and also molecular features.
The New York-born photographer, Linda, was born in 1941 and was just 56 years old when she passed from breast cancer. She lived an incredible life of love and impact.Read More
Breast Cancer Treatment AdvancementsBreast cancer treatments have made incredible advances since Linda battled breast cancer. Today, the average five-year survival rate for people with non-metastatic invasive breast cancer is 90%.
Most women who get breast cancer now live.
“Despite the huge trauma of the disease, it’s an amazingly hopeful and exciting field,” SurvivorNet Medical Advisor, Dr. Elizabeth Comen, said in an earlier interview.
These days it’s not just about the stage of your breast cancer. Hormones, biology, and genetics should all play a role in determining your treatment.
When your doctor is determining the treatment for your particular cancer there are many considerations that factor into the decision. For example: what is the size of the tumor, and are lymph nodes or other parts of the body involved?
The biology of your tumor is also important: is your tumor positive for the HER2 receptor or hormone receptors? Did you inherit an increased risk for breast cancer and/or did your lifestyle increase your risk?
One significant advancement has been the new classification of some advanced breast cancers called “HER2-low,” which means that women previously classified as HER2-negative could qualify for certain treatments.
Breast cancer cells with higher than normal levels of HER2 are called HER2-positive, found in 15-20% or all breast tumors. While they tend to grow faster, they are much more likely to respond to treatment with drugs that target the HER2 protein.
HER2-low cancers do not meet the threshold for HER2-positive tumors, but they still have a minimal amount of HER2 expression. So with the new grouping, HER2-low patients that may have previously been classified as HER2-negative may have the ability to take advantage of life-changing treatments like Enhertu (generic name Trastuzumab deruxtecan), which can extend overall survival rates.
There are so many different ways to treat and target breast cancer today. Oncologists have many routes to go and many options no matter what stage the diagnosis.
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Since 1998, when Linda McCartney passed, the way doctors view breast cancer has evolved. It’s now thought of as not just one, but as many diseases.
Women are evaluated for genetics, hormones, and also molecular features. Genetic makeup, such as possessing the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene mutation, is an influencing factor for people with breast cancer, or those with a higher risk factor of the disease.
Genetic Testing For Breast Cancer
Genetic & Molecular Features of Breast Cancer
Approximately 5-10% of breast cancer incidences are believed to be hereditary and caused by abnormal genes being carried on from parent to child.
Genes — including those that cause cancer — are segments of DNA found in chromosomes. Changes to DNA that negatively impact health are known as mutations; they can lead to faulty cell function or faulty cell growth.
Breast cancer-specific genetic mutations — known as BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations — can cause an increased risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. The majority of inherited breast cancer cases are associated with these genetic mutations.
BRCA is actually two genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2); each protein works as a tumor suppressor. They help repair damaged DNA, and are important for ensuring the stability of each cell’s genetic material.
When either of these genes is altered, that mutation can mean that its protein product does not function properly, or that damaged DNA may not be repaired correctly.
These inherited mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 can increase the risk of female breast and ovarian cancers, and have also been associated with increased risks for several other cancers.
For the molecular makeup of breast cancer, there are different types. These include:
- Luminal A breast cancer
- Luminal B breast cancer
- Luminal B-like breast cancer
- HER2-enriched breast cancer
- Triple-negative or basal-like breast cancer
Each type has a specific, individualized molecular structure. The different types of molecular structures of breast cancer may inform the treatment path.
Linda’s Breast Cancer Journey
Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995, and by the time she was diagnosed, the disease had already metastasized — or spread — to other areas of her body.
She had treatment after first getting diagnosed, and it appeared to have gone well, according to a family spokesperson at the time of her death via Variety.
“But unfortunately, in March, it was found that it had gone to her liver,” said the spokesperson.
Two days before she passed, Linda was riding horses with Paul.
“The blessing was that the end came quickly and she didn’t suffer,” the spokesperson shared.
Husband Paul asked that in lieu of flowers, fans and loved ones honor Linda with a donation to cancer research or animal welfare charities — or simply “go veggie.” (Linda was a noted vegetarian and vocal supporter of animal rights.)
What are the Options When Breast Cancer Spreads?
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