TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - Recent breakthroughs are making a difference in the diagnosis and treatment of many forms of cancer, but not breast cancer.
Researchers at Florida State University are determined to figure out why.
"I want to live and I think when you make up your mind, the will is so powerful. You do your very best to fight for you," said Towanda Davila-Davis, a breast cancer survivor. "And when you start fighting for you, something within yourself stands up against these maladies that try to attack our bodies."
For Towanda Davila-Davis, her fight against cancer requires mental and spiritual strength, but also a healthy immune system, the body's natural way to fight any disease.
Immunotherapy focuses on the body's ability to fight cancer by unleashing the natural and profound healing power of your immune system.
However, for breast cancer patients, immunotherapy has not been effective.
"It kind of tricks the immune system by telling it, 'I'm normal and I'm not cancerous.' So these have to be treated differently," said Mayassa Burjas, FSU graduate student.
FSU researchers said after studying data from 1,000 patients, they found breast cancer hides from the immune system and avoids detection in at least 7 different ways.
"Treatment for metastatic breast cancer, and also cure for metastatic breast cancer that spreads to other part of the body, does not exist," said Dr. Qing-Xiang "Amy" Sang, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at FSU.
Dr. Sang and her team hope their research can be used in clinical trials to help treat patients with several different forms of cancer.
"We need to do better to help cancer patients, especially people in advanced stage of breast cancer. So, immunotherapy provides hope," said Dr. Sang.
"Yeah, it shook me to my very core, but I never lost my faith because I wanted to live and I think that's the key, making the determination that they want to live and we can live through this," said Davila-Davis.
If your battling cancer and need a support system in Tallahassee, the Cancer Knock Out Foundation aims to educate and empower patients and survivors with all cancer types.