Breast Cancer

Monday, August 7, 2017

Targeted radiotherapy reduces side effects of breast cancer surgery

CANCER DIGEST – Aug. 7, 2017 – Targeting the tumor site with radiotherapy after surgery to remove breast cancer resulted in fewer long-term side effects five years later, according to a new British study.
The researchers at 30 radiotherapy centers across the UK, led by The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre, studied more than 2,000 women aged 50 or over who had early stage breast cancer that was at a low risk of coming back. The results of the study were published in the Aug. 2, 2017 The Lancet.
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Saturday, June 10, 2017

No survival benefit from surgery for advanced breast cancer


CANCER DIGEST – June 10, 2017 – A new Austrian study could change treatment for women diagnosed with advanced stage breast cancer that has spread throughout the body.

Based on several analyses of past studies, current therapy starts with surgery to remove the main breast tumors followed by chemotherapy to try to kill the remaining tumors dispersed throughout the body, or hormone therapy to block or prevent hormones from feeding further tumor growth, called hormone therapy. 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Where your fat is carried can predict cancer risk

CANCER DIGEST – May 27, 2017 – Scientists have found that carrying fat around your middle could be as good an indicator of cancer risk as body mass index (BMI), according to research published in the British Journal of Cancer.

This is the first study comparing adult body measurements in such a standardized way for obesity-related cancers. The study combined data from more than 43,000 participants who had been followed for an average of 12 years and more than 1,600 people were diagnosed with an obesity-related cancer. 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Long-term aspirin use continue to show benefits


Yin Cao, MPH, ScD
CANCER DIGEST – April 9, 2017 – The evidence supporting the benefits of low-dose daily aspirin to prevent cancer continues to grow. In a study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting taking place in Washington, D.C. this week, a large long-term study of nurses shows that the overall risk of dying was 7 percent lower for women and 11 percent lower for men who had regularly taken aspirin.

The Nurses’ Health System Study began in 1976 and has followed more than 280,000 nurses since that time using repeated questionnaire and follow-up assessments since the study began. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Study shows women taking hormones for menopause have lower risk of dying


CANCER DIGEST – March 10, 2016 – Women using hormone replacement therapy to relieve the symptoms of menopause faced a 30 percent lower risk of death compared to women not using hormone therapy, according to a single-center study that will be presented March 17 at the American College of Cardiology's 66th Annual Scientific Session. The study also showed lower levels of atherosclerosis, or plaque buildup in the heart's arteries among women taking the hormones. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Breast cancer blood test may predict survival

cMethDNA test
Photo courtesy Johns Hopkins
Kimmel Cancer Center
CANCER DIGEST – Feb. 5, 2017 – A blood test that spots cancer-linked DNA in women with advanced breast cancer correctly predicted that most of those patients with higher levels of the tumor markers died significantly earlier than those with lower levels.

The Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center scientists, who developed the test and led the study, say the results, if confirmed in more studies, suggest that the DNA detector, called cMethDNA, could be widely used to identify breast cancers at higher risk for recurrence and track the success or failure of treatment. Results of the study were published online Nov. 21, 2016 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

High blood pressure drug may block cancer spread


High-resolution microscope image of an invasive
breast cancer cell (magenta) expressing Myosin-10
induced “sticky-fingers” (green). Credit: Dr Guillaume
Jacquemet, University of Turku
CANCER DIGEST – Dec. 18, 2016 – Could a drug already approved to reduce high blood pressure block the spread of breast and pancreatic cancer? 

That’s the intriguing question a group of Finnish researchers at the University of Turku are working to find out.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Blocking key nutrient may kill hard-to-treat form of breast cancer



Triple negative breast cancer
died rapidly when deprived
of cystine
CANCER DIGEST – Nov. 27, 2016 – In a new study, Duke University scientists report that an aggressive and treatment-resistant form of breast cancer, called triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), die off rapidly when deprived of a key nutrient called cystine. 

Patients diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, which constitute about 10 to 20 percent of all breast cancer cases, have few treatment options outside of surgery and chemotherapy. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Drug targeting hormone receptor boosts progression-free survival


A drug that targets hormone receptors of cancer cells boosts the time patients with advanced breast survive without the cancer progressing, a new study shows.

The study showed that fulvestrant, sold as Faslodex by AstraZeneca, women with advanced hormone receptor positive breast cancer had significantly longer progression-free survival, particularly those with less aggressive lower-volume disease, and was reported at the ESMO 2016 Congress in Copenhagen.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Overactive thyroid increases breast cancer risk


CANCER DIGEST – Feb. 12, 2016 – Women with overactive thyroids have an 11 percent increased risk of breast cancer according to a study of Danish health registry records. 

The study led by Mette S√łgaard, MD, of Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, analyzed the records of 61,873 Danish women diagnosed with below normal levels of the hormone thyroxine (hypothyroidism) and 80,343 women diagnosed with higher than normal

Friday, January 1, 2016

Ultrasound shown comparable to mammography for breast cancer detection

Portable ultrasound may be comparable
to mammography for detecting breast
cancer
CANCER DIGEST – Dec. 31, 2015 – Ultrasound is as sensitive for detecting breast cancer as mammography, and should be considered for testing for the disease according to an international study.

Researchers led by by Wendie Berg, MD, PhD, in the Department of Radiology at Magee-Women’s Hospital of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center conducted the study involving 2,809 women from 20 different centers in the United States, Canada and Argentina. Of those 2,662 completed three annual

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Gum disease increases breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women

History of smoking significantly affects the link


Image courtesy: National Institute
of Dental and Craniofacial Research
CANCER DIGEST – Dec. 24, 2015 – Research has shown that taking care of your teeth and gums can prevent a lot of diseases you don’t want. Adding to the body of evidence, a new study shows that postmenopausal women with gum disease were more likely to develop breast cancer than women who did not have the chronic inflammatory condition, and a history of smoking significantly the risk, researchers report.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

5 of 6 at-risk women reject breast cancer prevention drug


CANCER DIGEST – Dec. 9, 2015 –Five in six women with increased risk of breast cancer turn down drugs likely to prevent the disease, according to research published in Annals of Oncology

Researchers at Queen Mary University of London collected data from 21,000 women of all ages who were at increased risk of developing breast cancer and had taken part in 26 international studies. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Black breast cancer patients less likely to benefit from chemo before surgery


CANCER DIGEST – Dec. 1, 2015 – Among minority women treated with early chemotherapy, black women have worse outcomes than the other groups, a Yale Cancer Center analysis of the National Cancer Database shows.  

Black, Hispanic, and Asian women typically develop advanced-stage breast cancer more often than white women. As a result, black women are more likely to receive chemotherapy prior to surgery, or neoadjuvant chemotherapy, to reduce the tumor volume before the surgeon attempts to remove it in hopes of improving outcomes.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Biomarker may predict which HER2-negative breast cancer patients will benefit from targeted therapy


CANCER DIGEST – Sept. 22, 2015 – A new study has demonstrated that brief exposure to a targeted therapy can tell doctors which HER2-negative patients will respond — and which should switch to another kind of treatment.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Olive oil and Mediterranean diet may reduce breast cancer risk


CANCER DIGEST – Sept. 14, 2015 – Eating a Mediterranean diet with added extra virgin olive oil was associated with a 68 percent lower risk of breast cancer compared to women who did not follow the diet in a study of women in Spain, according to an article published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.

The Mediterranean diet comes from foods characterized by the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. It emphasizes eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains,

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

New blood test may predict breast cancer relapse


Cancer Digest – Aug. 26, 2015 – Scientists have developed a blood test for breast cancer able to identify which patients will suffer a relapse after treatment, months before tumors are visible on hospital scans.

Researchers at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust took tumor and blood samples from 55 breast cancer patients with early-stage disease who had received chemotherapy followed by surgery, and who had potentially been cured of their disease.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Five heads better than two for cancer diagnosis


CANCER DIGEST – Aug. 15, 2015 – If two heads are better than one, can having four or five radiologists read your mammogram increase the accuracy of the diagnosis? A new study of such “collective intelligence” suggests it might.

Currently two physicians typically read mammography screens resulting in about 20 percent of women with cancer diagnosed cancer-free, and another 20 percent without cancer diagnosed as having the disease. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Shapeshifting marker for cancer cells identified

CANCER DIGEST – Aug. 10, 2015 – In a first of its kind study researchers have identified a genetic biomarker responsible for the progression of many breast and prostate cancers. 

The newly identified biomarker is called diaphanous-related formin-3 or DIAPH3, which participates in a protein interaction that makes cells rigid. The study found that when this biomarker is lost or decreased, cells become flexible or pliable allowing them to squeeze through tissue spaces. Cancer cells with this property can invade normal tissues and adhere to other tissues in the body.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Study shows how aspirin might halt breast cancer recurrence


Dr. Sushanta Banerjee (seated) is seen 
with his research team (from left): 
Samdipto Sarkar, Dr. Snigdha Banerjee, 
Dr. Amlan Das, Archana De, and Dr. 
Gargi Maity. photo by: Tony F. Barnett
CANCER DIGEST – June 13, 2015 – Aspirin may block or slow breast cancer, a laboratory study shows. The Veterans Affairs researchers in Kansas City, MO, have shown that acetylsalicylic acid, commonly known as aspirin, dramatically increased the rate of death of cancer cells in a petri dish and in mice.

While it has been shown to be effective for a host of ailments, including colon, gastrointestinal and prostate cancers, the new study shows how it might also be effective in stopping or slowing the growth of breast cancer by changing the microenvironment of the cancer. The study was published in the April 13, 2015 issue of Laboratory Investigation.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

New blood test can predict future breast cancer

CANCER DIGEST – April 17, 2015 – It sounds like something out of Dr. McCoy’s physician’s bag on Star Trek, a simple test that can tell whether a patient would likely develop cancer within the next five years, but that’s what Dutch scientists say they have developed.

By analysing a simple blood sample, scientists from the University of Copenhagen have succeeded in predicting if a woman will get breast cancer within two to five years. The method – a metabolic blood profile – is still in the early stages but over time the scientists expect it could be used to predict breast cancer and more generally to predict chronic disease.

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Very low breast density linked with lower survival in women with breast cancer


CANCER DIGEST – March 13, 2015 – Women with breast cancer whose breasts have very low density have a higher risk of dying from the disease than women with high breast density, a new Finnish study shows.

Dense breast tissue has long been known to be linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, and it is difficult to detect small tumors when screening dense breasts. This results in a higher occurrence of clinically detectable cancers. Breast density is matter of the amount of glandular tissue present compared to fat tissue.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Adding local anesthesia can cut risk of chronic pain after mastectomy


CANCER DIGEST – Feb. 25, 2015 – Up to 60 per cent of women may experience chronic pain three months after they've had a mastectomy for breast cancer, and at least half of those will still suffer from this pain one year later.

Unlike the soreness and aching associated with conventional pain, which may also affect these patients, neuropathic pain also affects sensation. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

New oral drug shows promise for advanced breast cancer


Click to view YouTube explanation of palbociclib
CANCER DIGEST – Feb. 23, 2015 –Women diagnosed with advanced breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body achieved longer progression-free survival after treatment with a new oral drug, called palbociclib.

The new drug was recently approved by the FDA for metastatic breast cancer patients just beginning to undergo hormone therapy after an initial phase I clinical trial conducted by researchers in the Abramson Cancer Center and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Tamoxifen reduces breast cancer by 30 percent after 20 years


CANCER DIGEST – Dec. 12, 2014 – Tamoxifen remains effective for preventing breast cancer for at least 20 years a new analysis published in TheLancet Oncology shows.

The researchers analyzed data from 7,154 pre- and post-menopausal women who participated in the International Breast Cancer Intervention Study (IBIS I) study, which ended in 2001. The women were randomly assigned to receive either tamoxifen (20mg daily) or a matching placebo for five years. After completing treatment, the health of all participants was monitored with an average follow-up time of 16 years and maximum of 22 years.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Most breast cancer patients receiving radiotherapy longer than recommended


CANCER DIGEST – Dec. 10, 2014 – Two-thirds of women treated for early-stage breast cancer in the U.S. receive longer radiation therapy than necessary, according a new study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association

Led by University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine's Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, and Dr. Justin E. Bekelman, the researchers analyzed insurance claims data provided by Anthem, Inc., a health benefits company (formerly WellPoint, Inc.) from 14 commercial healthcare plans covering 9 million women.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Ultrasound screening of dense breasts will cost a lot with little benefit


CANCER DIGEST – Dec. 9, 2014 – Adding ultrasound screening for all U.S. women with dense breasts would substantially increase healthcare costs with little improvement in overall health, according to an analysis released today in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

With more states mandating notification of women when mammograms shows they have dense breasts, a risk factor for breast cancer, researchers at Dartmouth Hitchcock’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center looked at the costs and benefits of following up mammograms with ultrasound for these women.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

3-D mammography boosts cancer detection in dense breasts


A malignancy easily missed on 2-D
mammography was clearly seen on
3-D mammography. Credit - RSNA
Click image to enlarge
CANCER DIGEST – Dec. 2, 2014 – A major new study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) in Chicago this week has found that digital breast tomosynthesis, also known as 3-D mammography, has the potential to significantly increase the cancer detection rate in mammography screening of women with dense breasts.

The researchers compared cancer detection using full-field digital mammography (FFDM) versus FFDM plus digital breast tomosynthesisin 25,547 women between the ages of 50 and 69.

Monday, November 10, 2014

New drug shows promise for people with BRCA1 or 2 cancers


CANCER DIGEST – Nov. 10, 2014 – People with certain cancers that stem from mutations of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene may soon have another treatment option to slow the cancer progression.

In an early stage clinical trial of the twice-daily drug olaparib, 26 percent of patients had their tumors shrink or disappear for up to 7 months. The phase II trial was designed to determine whether tumors responded to the drug. Whether the drug significantly increases survival will need to be tested in larger phase III studies.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Herceptin extends survival for in HER2 breast cancer


CANCER DIGEST – Oct. 20, 2014 – Women with early stage, HER 2 positive breast cancer had a 37 percent improvement in survival and a 40 percent reduction in risk of recurrence, when treated with Herceptin (trastuzumab) compared to patients treated with chemotherapy alone. Tumors with the human epidermal growth factor 2 protein, or HER 2 positive breast cancer, tend to have more aggressive cancer.

Monday, October 13, 2014


Stomach position can cut radiation exposure in breast cancer treatment

YouTube video courtesy OSU
Comprehensive Cancer Center
CANCER DIGEST – Oct. 14, 2014 – Researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center have devised a treatment board that allows breast cancer patients to lie on their stomachs for radiation treatments following surgery for the cancer.

The center’s Dr. Julia White says the prone board allows gravity to pull the breast away from the chest wall and create a more uniform shape that enables better distribution of the radiation dose.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Bone loss drug could prevent breast cancer spread to bones


CANCER DIGEST – Oct. 1, 2014 – A drug used to slow osteoporosis may prevent breast cancer from spreading to the bones, a new study suggests.

Dr. Richard Kremer and co-lead author, Dr. Nancy Mayo, of McGill University Health Center, in Montreal, Canada, worked with colleagues to evaluate data from more than 21,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer. The study was published in this month’s issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI).

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Increasing skirt size linked to breast cancer risk


CANCER DIGEST – Sept. 24, 2014 – Increases in skirt size every 10 years was linked to a 33 percent rise in breast cancer risk, a new analysis of a large ongoing population study shows.

The findings stem from analysis of data accumulated from the 93,000 UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening study in England, which is following the women over a long time with periodic questionnaires. All the women were over 50 and post menopausal when they entered the study between 2005 and 2010. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Lilly drug improves survival in colorectal and gastric cancers, not breast cancer


CANCER DIGEST – Sept. 19, 2014 – Mixed results for Eli Lilly’s targeted drug CYRAMZA™ (ramucirumab) were published this week in a pair of studies, one showing a significant increase in overall survival for people with gastric (stomach) and colorectal cancers but no significant increase for patients with breast cancer.

Ramucirumab blocks VEGFR-2 (vascular endothelial growth factor) a protein important for the formation of blood vessels needed to support tumor growth. A number of these agents are being tested in a variety of solid tumor cancers.

In the unpublished RAISE study of over 1,000 patients with colorectal cancer a Lillypress release reported that adding CYRAMZA to a chemotherapy regimen improved overall survival to 5.2 months compared to 3.8 months for those given the chemo regimen alone. 

In the RAINBOW trial of 665 people with stomach cancers, patients receiving CYRAMZA and paclitaxel had an overall survival of 9.6 months compared to 7.4 months in the standard chemo group. It was published online in The Lancet Oncology.

Results in the ROSE/TRIO-12 trial of 1,144 patients with HER2 negative breast cancer published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology showed no significant improvement in overall or progression free survival. Overall survival was 27.3 months with ramucirumab compared to 27.2 months without it. Progression-free survival for the ramucirumab group was 9.5 months compared to 8.2 months without.

The FDA approved Cyramza™ for advanced or metastatic stomach cancers in April 2014.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Triple chemo regimen improves response in triple-negative breast cancer


CANCER DIGEST – Sept. 9, 2014 – More women with triple-negative breast cancer achieved a complete response to chemotherapy when either an additional chemo agent or targeted therapy was added to paclitaxel, followed by a combination chemotherapy.

Triple-negative breast cancer accounts for 15 to 20 percent of invasive breast cancers and occurs more commonly in younger women, African-Americans, Hispanics and BRCA1-mutation carriers.
The cancer is negative for estrogen and progesterone receptors and for HER2. It tends to grow rapidly and spread to lymph nodes. With no identified characteristic molecular abnormalities that can be targeted, the current standard of treatment for triple negative breast cancer is chemotherapy to shrink the cancer before surgery to remove tumors. The study was published online ahead of print in the Journal of Clinical Oncology

Women who achieve a complete response to the pre-surgery chemotherapy, meaning all traces of the cancer is eradicated by the chemo, are much less likely to relapse. In an effort to increase the number of women who achieve complete response researchers led by Dr. William Sikov of the Breast Health Center at Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, added either the chemotherapy agent carboplatin or the targeted therapy bevacizumab (Avastin) or both to the standard chemotherapy regimen. Both groups showed significant increases in the number of women who achieved a complete response. Whether this will improve relapse-free or overall survival, however, is not yet known.

Friday, September 5, 2014

No link between bras and breast cancer


CANCER DIGEST – Sept. 5, 2014 – Wearing a bra may not increase your risk of breast cancer, a new population-based study has found.

Since Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer published their book, “Dressed to Kill” in 1995, claiming that bra-wearing may be a major cause of breast cancer there has been persistent concerns about about bras and breast cancer. The study they based their claim on has never been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

The new study led by LuChen, a researcher in the Public Health Sciences Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center interviewed 1085 women with two of the most common forms of breast cancer and 469 women without breast cancer. All were post menopausal between the ages of 55 and 74. The structured interviews assessed lifetime patterns of bra wearing including age when they started wearing a bra, type of bras they wore and amount of time per week they wore them. The study was published in the September Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

"Our study found no evidence that wearing a bra increases a woman's risk for breast cancer. The risk was similar no matter how many hours per day women wore a bra, whether they wore a bra with an underwire, or at what age they first began wearing a bra," said Chen.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

No better survival for women who choose double mastectomies


CANCER DIGEST – Sept. 2, 2014 – A study of breast cancer treatment has shown no survival advantage for women who have surgery to remove both breasts.

The study of nearly 190,000 California women with cancer is the first to directly compare survival rates of the three most common surgical therapies used to treat breast cancer in one breast. The study published in the Sept. 2, Journal of the American Medical Association confirms results of a July study showing only modest increase in survival for women with early stage breast cancer. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Protein may predict breast cancer outcomes


CANCER DIGEST – Aug. 25, 2014 – Researchers have identified a protein that may be the first biomarker for breast cancer that has begun to spread to other parts of the body. 

In a study published online today, Canadian researchers at McGill University, Montreal led by Josie Ursini-Siegel show that elevated levels of the protein, named p66ShcA, in the blood is strongly linked to genes that trigger a process that aids tumor cells to begin seeping into the blood stream. The study appeared online in the journal Molecular and Cellular Biology.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Overweight breast cancer patients may benefit from aspirin, ibuprofen


CANCER DIGEST – Aug. 15, 2014 – Post menopausal women with breast cancer who are overweight or obese and taking tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors were less likely to have their cancer recur if they took aspirin or ibuprofen, a new analysis shows.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Osteoporosis drugs don't protect against breast cancer


Alendronic acid (Fosamax) is taken for
osteoporosis (NIH image)
CANCER DIGEST – Aug. 11, 2014 – Osteoporosis drugs known as bisphosphonates may not protect women from breast cancer as had been thought, according to a new study led by researchers at UC San Francisco (UCSF) despite several observational studies that showed women who took them were less likely to get breast cancer.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Some birth control pills may boost breast cancer risk


CANCER DIGEST – Aug. 4, 2014 – A study of 1,102 women diagnosed with breast cancer and 21,952 who were cancer free, found that recent oral contraceptive use increased breast cancer risk by 50 percent, compared with never or former use. 

The study led by Elisabeth F. Beaber, PhD, MPH, at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Wash. looked at the electronic pharmacy records of women who recently used birth control pills containing high-dose estrogen. They found that some of the formulations increased breast cancer risk 2.7 times, and those containing moderate-dose estrogen increased the risk 1.6-fold compared to women who did not use those contraceptives. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Breast cancer screening costs up, early detection unchanged


CANCER DIGEST – July 16, 2014 – Medicare spending on breast cancer screening increased by nearly $300 million a year between 2001 and 2009 but the detection rates of early stage tumors were unchanged, according to a new study published July 16 in the JNCI: Journalof the National Cancer Institute. Using data from the SEER-Medicare linked database, researchers at the Yale Cancer Center created two groups of women 65 and over and compared them.

Tuesday, July 16, 2014

Double mastectomy to prevent cancer may result in small survival benefit

CANCER DIGEST – July 16, 2014 – Women without BRCA genetic mutations who have breast cancer in one breast and choose to have both breasts removed to prevent cancer in the opposite breast have an average increase in life expectancy ranging from 1 to 7 months depending on type and stage of cancer, according to a study published July 16 in the JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

MRI-PET imaging combination could cut unnecessary breast biopsies by half


CANCER DIGEST – June 24, 2014 – A new technique using four imaging approaches, was 96 percent accurate in distinguishing malignant breast tumors from those that were benign, and provided better results than combinations of two or three imaging approaches. The researchers at the Medical University of Vienna in Austria reported their study results in the June 2014 Clinical Cancer Research. They estimated that this technique could reduce unnecessary breast biopsies recommended by the commonly used imaging method, dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI), by 50 percent. Pinker and colleagues recruited 76 patients to the study who had suspicious or inconclusive findings from a mammography or a breast ultrasonography. They performed a multi-parameter imaging using MRI and contrast dye that shows tumor activity along with a PET scan on all the patients. In addition, they used three other methods. All results were compared with microscopic exam of the tumors to evaluate which imaging combination was most efficient in making an accurate diagnosis. Of the 76 tumors, 53 were malignant and 23 were benign, based on histopathology. The method called  MP 18FDG PET-MRI was the most accurate.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

New guidelines call for extending tamoxifen for 10 years


Joanne Mortimer, MD, Director of the Women's
Cancers Program at City of Hope Comprehensive
Cancer Center, Duarte, California
    CANCER DIGEST – June 5, 2014 – An expert panel at the American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO) meeting last week announced new guidelines for adding endocrine (hormone) therapies such as tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors for post menopausal women with hormone receptor positive breast cancer. Aromatase inhibitors (AIs) include Exemestane (Aromasin®),Letrozole (Femara®), and Anastrozole(Arimidex®)

    Following breast cancer treatment, the panel recommends that:
    • Postmenopausal patients should be offered continued tamoxifen for a total duration of 10 years or an AI for a total duration of up to 10 years of adjuvant endocrine therapy.
    • Postmenopausal women should be offered added endocrine therapy with one of the following options: tamoxifen for 10 years; or an AI for 5 years; tamoxifen for 5 years, then switching to an AI for up to 5 years; or tamoxifen for 2-3 years and switching to an AI for up to 5 years.
    • Women who are postmenopausal and are intolerant of either tamoxifen or an AI should be offered the alternative type of adjuvant endocrine therapy.

    Wednesday, May 21, 2014


    MRI and anxiety linked to double mastectomy choice

    CANCER DIGEST – May 21, 2014 – Many women who have breast cancer in one breast may be opting for double mastectomy for reasons other than a genetic or family history of the disease indicating a high risk of cancer in the other breast. Researchers who analyzed data from 1447 women with breast cancer who were followed and surveyed twice over a five year period found that 32.2 percent considered having both breasts removed, 45.8 percent received single mastectomy and 22.8 percent received breast conserving surgery, or lumpectomy. Among the  the 7.6 percent who actually underwent double mastectomy most had an MRI and were more likely to fear recurrence. Few had a clinically significant risk of developing cancer in the other breast. The study published today in the journalJAMA Surgery concluded that more research is needed to understand the factors driving the use of double mastectomy.

    Sunday, April 6, 2014


    Drug doubles time to progression in advanced breast cancer

    REUTERS ­– April 6, 2014 – Women with advanced breast cancer had their disease progression halt or slow for twice as long when a new type of targeted drug was added to their hormonal therapy, compared to those treated with hormonal therapy alone. UCLA researchers reported the results of the mid-stage trial at the American Association of Cancer Research annual meeting this week in San Diego. Women whose tumors were responsive to hormones (HR-positive) had progression-free survival of 20.2 months when treated with the new drug, palbociclib plus letrozole. Those in the standard therapy receiving letrozole alone had progression-free survival of 10.2 months. The palbociclib group had an overall survival of 37.5 months compared to 33.3 months for the letrozole-alone group. That difference was not considered statistically significant.



    Monday, March 24, 2014


    Early study promising for advanced breast cancer

    SCIENCE DAILY – Mar. 24, 2014 – In a study of advanced breast cancer, researchers using highly targeted radiation therapy called radioembolization, reported that imaging showed 98.5 percent of liver tumors treated in 69 women had stopped growing. Radioembolization delivers micro-beads containing the radioactive isotope yttrium-90 (Y-90) directly to the main artery serving the liver through an image-guided catheter. The study in 75 women with cancer too advanced for other therapies was presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology's 39th Annual Scientific Meeting in San Diego, this week.


    Friday, March 21, 2014


    Lumpectomy better than mastectomy

    MEDPAGE TODAY – Mar. 21, 2014 – An analysis of 132,149 women treated for early stage breast cancer shows that those treated with breast-conserving surgery had a 30 percent better five- and 10-year survival compared to women who had mastectomy. The difference rose to 47 percent when radiation was added to breast-conserving surgery. The study by researchers at the University of Utah analyzed data from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program from 1998 to 2008. They published their report in JAMA Surgery.


    Thursday, November 7, 2013


    Pair of studies show missed mammograms increase risk of late-stage diagnosis

    Mammogram showing
    suspicious lesions
    A pair of studies of mammography utilization show that women who missed mammograms tended to be diagnosed at a later stage. 

    In a single institution study in the Nov. 2013 AmericanJournal of Roentgenology researchers found that,regardless of age, women who underwent mammography were more likely to have early-stage breast cancer at diagnosis than were those who did not undergo mammography. 

    In an earlier study analyzing treatment failure among 7,301 breast cancer patients in the Sept. 9, 2013Cancer, Harvard researchers found that among the 609 breast cancer deaths, 65 percent had never had a mammogram.
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