Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Digital Tomosynthesis May Provide Better Detection of Breast Cancer and Fewer False Positives than Conventional Mammography

Paula Moyer, DGDispatch, November 29, 2005
"Tomosynthesis was superior to mammography 35% of the time, equivalent 54% of the time, inferior 12% of the time," Dr. Poplack said. "When inferior, it wasn't that tomosynthesis didn't see the abnormality; it just didn't characterize it as well."If tomosynthesis is used as a screening tool, Dr. Poplack estimates that 40% fewer women will require diagnostic mammography due to false positives at the initial screen.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Fall in middle-aged cancer deaths

The Scotsman, November 24, 2005
Findings revealed at the Britain Against Cancer (Bacup) conference in central London reported that the number of middle-aged people dying of cancer is falling. Although death rates fell, the number of people diagnosed with the disease stayed around the same. The study also found that there was a significant rise in rarer types of cancer.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Plant gene related to cancer treatment may foster new oncology drugs

Purdue University News Release, November 22, 2005
Two proteins involved in the process that controls plant growth may help explain why human cells reject chemotherapy drugs. Purdue plannt biologist Angus Murphy is corresponding author of the study published in the November issue of Plant Cell. He also is corresponding author of a related article published in October's Plant Journal. "Results of this research will give us a better idea of the functioning of the multi-drug resistance process in which human cancer cells reject anticancer treatments," Murphy said.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Breast cancer risk: is postmenopausal hormone therapy ever safe?

Ganz, Patricia A. Menopause. November/December 2005, 12(6):653-655

Arimidex After Two Years of Tamoxifen Reduces Recurrence in Post-Menopausal Women

R. Jakesz, et al. The Lancet August 6, 2005
Conclusions: In post-menopausal women with early-stage, hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer, women who switched to Arimidex for three years after taking tamoxifen for two years did better than those taking tamoxifen for five years. Switching reduced the risk of recurrence and the risk of developing a new cancer in the other breast. Women who switched to Arimidex had fewer of the uncommon but serious side effects associated with tamoxifen: endometrial cancer, blood clots, and strokes. But women taking Arimidex had more joint aches and pains and bone fractures. The researchers concluded that five years of tamoxifen is not the best treatment for post-menopausal women with early-stage, hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. They recommended that women on tamoxifen be switched to Arimidex after two years of tamoxifen treatment.

Aromasin Approved by the FDA for Post-menopausal Women with Early-Stage ER+ Breast Cancer

The U.S.F.DA. has approved Aromasin (chemical name: exemestane) to treat post-menopausal women with hormone-receptor-positive, early-stage breast cancer after two to three years of tamoxifen (for a total of five years of hormonal therapy). Aromatase inhibitors reduce the amount of estrogen available to stimulate the growth of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. After menopause, most of the body's estrogen is made from another hormone, androgen. Aromatase inhibitors stop the enzyme called aromatase from turning androgen into estrogen. See here for an explanation of Aromatase Inhibitors.

Fertility gets tricky after breast cancer

Rita Rubin, USA Today November 20, 2005
Fertility is an issue with most young cancer patients, but in some ways it's more complicated in breast cancer patients. Most have tumors that feed on hormones, so fertility drugs or even pregnancy itself could raise their risk of a recurrence, at least theoretically. "It's an issue, and we worry about it," says breast cancer specialist Ann Partridge at Harvard's Dana Farber Cancer Institute. The little available data suggest that pregnancy does not raise recurrence risk, she says...

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Bra size in early adulthood indicative of future breast cancer risk

What Is the Word (Blog) November 20, 2005
A new Harvard University study published in the International Journal of Cancer has found that a large bra size at a young age increases the risk of developing breast cancer in women in pre-menopausal age.

Friday, November 18, 2005

In the US 40,000 People Died from Metastatic Breast Cancer in 2003, with Median Survival Rates Estimated to Be Two Years

Genetic Engineering News, November 18, 2005
In 2003, approximately 40,000 deaths in the United States were attributed to breast cancer. While significant therapeutic advances for early-stage disease have emerged in recent years, an estimated 30% to 40% of all patients (in Western countries) ultimately develop metastatic breast cancer (MBC). Median survival for MBC patients is estimated at an all too brief two years, underscoring tremendous unmet need among the MBC population.
Profiles in Metastatic Breast Cancer spotlights for drug developers potential opportunities for clinical and commercial advances in MBC drug development. These potential opportunities are identified ...

Breast Cancer Database Provides Faster Access To Patient Records

David Gardner, Information Week, November 18, 2005
The MyNDMA project enables women across the U.S. to have access to the system and their records, in the process making it possible for them to have more control over their care. For instance, a patient could have easy access to her records when visiting a new doctor for a second opinion. "Giving these women direct access and control of their medical records isn't just convenient," said Dr. Marisa Weiss in a statement. "It's empowering and can often be critical to the success of their treatment." Dr. Weiss is president and founder of the non-profit organization,

Breast Cancer Awareness License Plates in Many States

Since we're in Ohio, the link in the title is to the Ohio BMV's Breast Cancer Awareness License Plates site, but see below if you are in another state.

Since June 2005, Ohio has offered a Breast Cancer Awareness License Plate. They are available both with "system assigned" (+$35) and personalized (+$70)numbers/letters. $25 of the total plate cost "is distributed to pay for programs that provide assistance and education to Ohio breast cancer patients and that improve access for such patients to quality health care and clinical trials."

The following may not be an exhaustive list, but here are links to other states with Breast Cancer Awareness license plates. If you know of others, please let us know!













Wednesday, November 16, 2005

'Diep Flap' Reconstructive Option Helps Women Diagnosed With Breast Cancer

Andrea Roane, W-USA9 News, November 16, 2005
Probably 90% of the women I see are good candidates for this operation," Dr. Nalhabedian said.The principle advantage of the Diep Flap is that no muscle is removed that is used for the strength and support of the stomach area. Only skin and fat."In this way following the operation. The woman will have the muscle intact, the nerves in tact. The muscle is alive; it's works beautifully," Nalhabedian explains.And according to Nahabedien, patients tend to recover more quickly from this surgery, requiring only a three-day stay. In many cases, patients are even up and walking around the very next day.And Nahbedien says, "By six weeks I tell women they can do anything they riding, jogging whatever...without any restrictions."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Halo Pap Test Offers Early Breast Cancer Detection

CBS-4, Boston, November 15, 2005
The new Halo Pap Test for the breast is now available to help doctors identify breast disease up to eight years earlier than a lesson might be found on a mammogram. Doctors collect fluid from the breast duct to help identify abnormal cells. Some experts believe that this new non-invasive test may help significantly reduce breast cancer deaths – much like the pap test has helped reduce the number of cervical cancer deaths. “The breast pap test is going to be an advance in breast cancer screenings because we’re able to detect abnormal cells very early,” says woman health specialist Dr. Rosalyn Baxter-Jones.

13-Year Study Proves Tamoxifen Helps Prevent Breast Cancer

Janice Billingsley, Forbes, November 15, 2005
The final results of a 13-year study confirm that tamoxifen, a drug long used to treat breast cancer, can also prevent the malignancy in healthy women at high risk for the disease. Tamoxifen administered as a preventative measure in a group of 1000 high-risk women reduced occurrence by 43%. There are side effects which must be weighed against the benefits, of course. Tamoxifen's side effects were both beneficial and potentially harmful, and included a 32 percent decrease in bone fractures over seven years of follow-up and an increase in risks for uterine cancer, stroke, pulmonary embolism and cataracts. The findings appear in the Nov. 16 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Combining two new drugs - UCN-01 and MEK 1/2 -may offer breast cancer hope

DeHavilland, November 15, 2005
Combining two new drugs (UCN-01 and MEK 1/2, a protein inhibitor found to block tumour survival pathways) has been shown to kill up to 3/4 of breast tumours in mice and prevent tumours from re-growing. Separately, they killed only a tiny percentage of cancerous cells. These drugs are also part of a modern class of drugs that are less toxic to non-cancerous cells. Three researchers operated the same studies independently and all found similar results. The authors say more research is needed to test the effectiveness of the drug on humans.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Pillows provide comfort for breast cancer survivors

Joanne Fox, Soux City Journal, November 14, 2005
Maxine Polak and the Cancer Sewing Group at Westlawn Presbyterian Church in Dakota Dunes, Iowa work to alleviate the discomfort experienced by breast cancer patients. Last year, the American Cancer Society's Midwest Division recognized the church with the Survivorship Initiatives Volunteer of the Year for providing special pillows for breast cancer patients. The pattern, a 12-inch, half-moon piece of cardboard is placed on folded, cotton material. Helpers will stuff the pillow with cut-up pieces of pantyhose or nylons. "Batting doesn't do as well," Polak confessed of the material typically found in quilts. "You need that firmness that only comes with the pantyhose."...

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Hot-flashes in breast cancer survivors: effectiveness of low-dosage fluoxetine. A pilot study

Mariani L, et al. J Exp Clin Cancer Research 2005 Sep;24(3):373-8
Breast carcinoma survivors suffering from hot-flashes experience a negative impact on their quality of life. Antidepressants have recently been proven to be effective in these women, significantly reducing the vasomotor symptoms. With this in mind, a single-arm clinical trial low-dose regimen of Fluoxetine (10 mg/day for 4 weeks) was given to twenty symptomatic breast cancer patients. Among the 12 women evaluated at the end of treatment, a statistically significant reduction of the mean number of daily hot-flashes (-36.3%, p = 0.001) and hot-flashes score (-46.2%, p = 0.0006) had been detected as compared to the baseline data. Although the dosage of Fluoxetine used in these trials was lower than earlier published, it should be noted that these positive results were achieved without any relevant side effects.

More on the Herceptin "wonder drug" controversy

Tom Noble, The Age, November 14, 2005
The Lancet attacks the New England Journal of Medicine, and Roche fights back.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Do Statins Prevent Breast Cancer?

Henry J. Fishman, M.D., ConsumerAffairs.Com. November 10, 2005
The answer is no. Statins don’t help prevent cancer...Researchers analyzed data from 80,000 women with an average age of 65. They were all cancer-free initially. Twelve years year later 3,200 had breast cancer, including 1,700 women on statins. Taking statins had no impact at all on a woman’s risk of breast cancer. The risk was the same whether a women took satins or not and it did not matter how long she was on them.

Oncotype DX™ Test May Predict Outcome for Some Breast Cancer Patients

I am posting this because this test actually prevented Mia from undergoing unnecessary chemotherapy and I think everyone should know about it. It was recommended and administered by our hematology oncologist at the Cleveland Clinic. You'll see a description below as well as an additional link to the official website, run by the test's creators Genomic Health.

If you or someone you love qualifies for the test -- Stage I or II breast cancer, estrogen receptor positive (ER+), and node-negative (your lymph nodes do not contain cancer cells) -- please, please, please work with your doctor and insurance company to arrange to be screened!

"Oncotype DX™ is a diagnostic test that quantifies the likelihood of disease recurrence in women with early stage breast cancer and assesses the likely benefit from certain types of chemotherapy. With this information, it may be possible for doctors and patients to make more informed decisions about breast cancer treatment options. Oncotype DX analyzes a specific set of genes within a tumor to determine a Recurrence Score™.The Recurrence Score is a number between 0 and 100 that corresponds to a specific likelihood of breast cancer recurrence within 10 years of the initial diagnosis."

Herceptin: Breast cancer study challenged in British journal

Elisabeth Rosenthal, New York Times, November 10, 2005
Just three weeks after an editorial in a prestigious American medical journal declared an expensive new cancer drug to be revolutionary and a possible cure for some difficult to treat breast cancers, its conclusions were challenged by a prominent medical journal in Britain.
"The available evidence is insufficient to make reliable judgments," wrote the editors of the British journal Lancet in an online editorial dated today. "It is profoundly misleading to suggest, even rhetorically, that the published data may be indicative of a cure for breast cancer."
In a phone interview, Lancet's chief editor, Dr. Richard Horton, said he was "quite angry" that the drug Herceptin had been portrayed as such a wonder drug in The New England Journal of Medicine. "Study results are preliminary, inconsistent and raise extremely serious concerns about safety," he said....
[See also this post]

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Male breast cancer rates up since 2003 - Men more likely to die from it

Jamie VanGeest, Minnesota Daily, November 8, 2005
The American Cancer Society’s estimate for cases of breast cancer in men went up by 390 from 2003. Women are more likely than men to develop breast cancer, but men are more likely to die from it. Since 2003, cases of breast cancer in American men have been on the rise. The American Cancer Society estimates 1,690 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 and 460 of them will die from it. While breast cancer in men accounts for only 1 percent of all breast cancer cases, men who are diagnosed are 42 percent more likely to die than women with the disease, according to the John W. Nick Foundation, a breast cancer awareness organization.

Monday, November 07, 2005

A Nanotech Cure for Cancer?

Brandon Keim, Wired News November 7, 2005
In the burgeoning field of cancer nanotechnology, miniscule molecules are designed with literally atomic precision to combat cancer. One such application involves metallic molecules that adhere to cancer cells and can then be heated with microwaves, a magnetic field or infrared light, destroying the tumor while leaving surrounding tissues unharmed. Researchers at Rice University have done just this with gold-coated particles and breast cancer tissue cultures.

National Cancer Institute's Video on Cancer and Nanotechnology

National Cancer Institute's interesting video on the emerging promise nanotechnology provides in detecting, preventing, treating, and possibly curing cancer. This page provides versions for both low bandwidth (slow Internet connection) and high badwidth (fast Internet connection). You may choose to view it in Real Player or Windows Media Player.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

How to keep the breast cancer fight real

Tang, Sly. Financial Times. November 5, 2005
"It is November. The leaves have fallen, the pumpkin pies have been baked and the pink ribbons put away - not to mention the pink trench coats, pink T-shirts, and all the other pink paraphernalia fashion produces for Breast Cancer Awareness month.
It sounds so ideal - shopping for a cause - that it is tempting to ignore the question of where all the money goes?..."

Friday, November 04, 2005

What girls eat before puberty may protect them from Breast Cancer

MSNBC November 4, 2005
Research now suggests that adolescence may offer a unique window of opportunity for substantially lowering the risk of breast cancer later in life. Unlike other tissues in the body, breast tissue in babies and young girls has only one duct. Hormones secreted during puberty cause this duct to grow rapidly into a tree-like structure with more ducts. Carcinogens bind more readily to DNA in the immature cells that develop while this duct expands...

Safer drug than tamoxifen (Ospemifene) found for fighting breast cancer, November 4, 2005
A new drug,Ospemifene, being developed through the collaboration between UC Davis and a team of Finnish researchers to treat vaginal atrophy can also be used to fight breast cancer as has been proved in two separately conducted studies.The drug, besides being as effective, also is free from side-effects as compared to the existing drug Tamoxifen. Ospemifene did not lead to side effects such as hot flashes, insomnia and blood clots as was the case with raloxifin and tamoxifin which is known to increase the risk of endometrial cancer.

Columbia Study Links Race to Breast Cancer

Allison L. Yang, Columbia Daily Spectator, November 04, 2005
Black women with early-stage breast cancer are two times more likely than white women to die within five years of diagnosis. The study is the first to find that black women, despite lower breast cancer incidence, were more likely to terminate treatment early and have poorer five-year survival rates.

Six Weeks of Breast Radiation Reduced to One Week!

Springfield News-Sun, November 04, 2005
Six weeks of breast cancer treatment can be reduced to one week with a new treatment now available at the Springfield Regional Cancer Center. The cancer center administered its first MammoSite radiation treatment on Tuesday. The treatment sends high-dose radiation directly to the site of a removed tumor. The concentrated dose reduces treatment time and avoids sending radiation through healthy tissue.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Research unlocks breast cancer clue

Matt Pacenza, Times Union November 2, 2005
A new drug developed by three Albany Medical College researchers that mimics a protein produced by fetuses has shown a tantalizing ability to stop breast cancer tumors. The findings released Tuesday at a conference in Baltimore build on research showing that women who give birth are less likely to get breast cancer. Further study isolated a substance called alpha-fetoprotein that appears to help these women fight off tumors. Now, the Albany Med researchers have figured out how to make the protein in the lab.

Alcohol 'raises breast cancer risk' in HRT women

DeHavilland Information Services, November 2, 2005
Women undergoing hormone replacement therapy (HRT) who drink alcohol are increasing their risk from one of the most common forms of breast cancer, a Swedish study has found. Researchers at the Karolinska Institute found women who drank alcohol and took HRT to relieve the symptoms associated with menopause were at a higher risk from developing oestrogen receptor-positive breast cancer than their teetotal counterparts.

Breast Cancer and Herceptin Hype

TownHall.Com, November 3, 2005
"In case you somehow haven’t heard, three new studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine show that this cancer, which last year killed over 40,000 women, is now cured. Yes, that’s the exact word. And it’s all a lie, false hopes for every woman who has or will get breast cancer until there really is a cure. To know anything about Herceptin is to know this is mammarial mendacity. Long before this $48,000-per-year drug was first approved in 1998 for cancers that have spread beyond the breast it was known to be worthless in all but about 20-25% of women whose tumors pump out too much of a growth hormone called HER2..."

[Update 11/10/2005 - See also this post]

Wonder breast cancer drug set for all women

Manchester Evening News (Online), November 03, 2005
BREAST cancer victims across Greater Manchester are poised to get the wonderdrug Herceptin. Patients are currently being denied the lifesaving drug on the NHS because it has not been licensed for the early stages of the disease - a policy which has sparked a nationwide row. The Government announced recently that Herceptin should be available on the NHS for anyone who needs it, regardless of cost. The government has promised to introduce the drug as soon as possible.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Detection of breast cancer recurrence possible with simple blood test

Washington University, St. Louis, November 2, 2005
A new study that describes a biomarker seems to offer a specific and sensitive method to monitor breast cancer recurrence. Mammaglobin, a protein secreted by breast tumor cells, can readily be detected in the blood serum of patients with metastatic breast cancer using an inexpensive, reliable clinical test.

Vaginal atrophy drug Ospemifine may fight breast cancer

United Press International, November 2, 2005
Ospemifine, a tamoxifen-like drug now in clinical testing to treat vaginal atrophy may also help prevent breast cancer. The researchers said two mice studies found that ospemifine may fight cancer in addition to reducing vaginal atrophy, a condition that affects up to 40 percent of post-menopausal women.

Sauerkraut May Protect Women from Breast Cancer, Study Shows

PR Newswire, November 2, 2005
A new study shows the pickled cabbage may be a breast cancer protector for women. The study, presented this week at the American Association for CancerResearch's 4th annual Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research meeting inBaltimore, Md., found that women who ate three or more servings a week ofsauerkraut -- or raw or briefly cooked cabbage -- had "significantly reducedbreast cancer risk compared to women who had one serving weekly."

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Researchers develop compound to decrease breast cancer risk

Associated Press November 1, 2005
It has long been known that women who have been pregnant are at a lower risk for developing breast cancer later in life than those who have not had children. Now researchers at Albany Medical Center have developed a compound similar to the one produced in pregnant women that they say may help treat and prevent breast cancer.

Researchers, who presented the findings Tuesday in Baltimore, found the synthetic compound AFPep yielded a 23 percent decrease in the cancer rate in mice when administered alone.

Hot flushes distressing for breast cancer patients

Reuters, November 1, 2005
Article examines the prevalence of hot flashes for Breast Caner survivors and women's attitudes toward their treatment.

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