breast cancer

Mammography remains the standard means of screening for breast cancer. For women with denser breast tissue, the superimposition of tissue may mask early tumors even for the most observant of radiologists. A majority of states require the specific disclosure of breast density and the attendant possibility of falsely negative reports to patients. A study in Radiology takes a focused look at these patients using an automated measure of breast density rather than the subjective measures used in the US.

It is a retrospective, observational study of over 100,000 women and more than 300,000 mammographies contained in the BreastScreen database of Norway. Mammography studies were read independently by two radiologists who score findings on a 5 point scale. Those women with results other...

Today was a good day for personalized medicine with the report in the NEJM on treating breast cancer. A study looked at women categorized by a 21-gene assay [1] that predicted recurrence and whose care was predicated upon those findings. The women studied had breast cancer localized to their breast, responsive to hormone manipulation and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) negative. For women at low risk, recurrence of breast cancer runs at about 2% at 10-years and chemotherapy is not recommended; for women at high risk, adjuvant chemotherapy reduces recurrence. But what about the women in between high and low risk? Recommendations in this group have been more difficult, especially given the emotional need to do everything possible felt by both patient and physician.

...

Bras do not cause breast cancer. They are listed by Susan G. Komen alongside abortion, implants, caffeine, cell phones, deodorant, and electromagnetic fields as things that do not cause breast cancer.

An activist husband-and-wife team disagree. In 1995, they published a book called Dressed to Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras. Because scaring people is an excellent way to make money, they are releasing a second edition of the book this year. And for good measure, they are recruiting women into a sham cohort study to "prove" their wacky belief.

Before we debunk this junk study...

I had the distinct pleasure of being a reviewer for the 2018-2019 Community Grants program for Komen this Fall. The experience gave me a fresh perspective on the process and affirmed the organization’s dedication to getting it right with respect to women’s health, optimizing breast cancer understanding as well as facilitating early diagnosis, screening, monitoring and treatment. Fulfilling a core commitment to reducing barriers and expanding access, especially for those most challenged and underserved, this funding is particularly important to curtail late stage diagnosis which can adversely impact survival.(1)

Here are some pearls of wisdom I can now pass along.

...

Women who are diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer have many decisions to make and the more informed they are about their situation, the better able they'll be to make those decisions. Genetic testing is an important means of accessing information that can impact decisions. For example, discovering that one carries the BRCA1 or BRACA2 mutation, which substantially increases the risk of both ovarian and breast cancer, might induce a woman to have her ovaries removed, as well as a bilateral mastectomy. Not easy decisions by any account, but critical information for a woman and her family to have.

Unfortunately, many women who might benefit from such genetic screening don’t get it, recent research finds....

One of the top trending Google searches at the time of this writing was "asparagine," one of the roughly 20 amino acids that make up the proteins in our bodies and in our food.

Why was this rather boring molecule that biology majors are forced to memorize grabbing international headlines? Because, according to the media, it causes cancer. And where can you find asparagine? It can be found in any food that contains protein -- which is a lot of foods -- including asparagus, the vegetable after which it was named.

Thus, asparagus causes cancer.

Think I'm joking? I'm not. This headline is from The Times of London:

This...

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a well-known phenomenon, which has been plaguing us since right after penicillin was invented. But resistance is not limited to microbes. Human cells can also be or become resistant to the drugs used to treat them. Such is the case with some types of breast cancer cells. Writing in PLOS One, Dr. Gerald Davies from the University of Saskatchewan, in Canada, and colleagues report finding that metformin, a drug used to treat type 2 diabetes, has some efficacy in treating drug-resistant breast cancer cells in vitro and in mice.

The authors note that cancer cells may be resistant to a drug or drugs (multiple drug resistant, or MDR) at the beginning...

Women diagnosed with early estrogen-receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer are typically treated with surgery to remove the tumor and any affected lymph nodes. Then, chemotherapy and estrogen-blocking drugs such as tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors are prescribed. These drugs are usually used for five years, after which they are likely to be halted. But sometimes the tumors recur — sometimes as much as 20 years later — and the question arises as to whether or not they should have remained on the drug treatments and if so, for how long.  However, there can be adverse side effects from longer treatment with tamoxifen or aromatse inhibitors such as  pulmonary embolus or uterine cancer for the former and bone fracture for the latter. Thus, simply advising all women to continue them past the...

Julia Louis-Dreyfus recently announced her breast cancer diagnosis.  This announcement is very timely since  October has been designated as breast cancer awareness month. While it might seem impossible to think that there's anything good about breast cancer, fortunately, there is. 

According to report, which is published every two years by the American Cancer Society, breast cancer deaths have declined by 39 percent between 1989 and 2015. That's about 322,600 fewer victims of the disease. Additionally, between 2006 to 2015, the gap between racial/ethnic disparities seemed to be narrowing (including Alaskan Natives and American Indians).  

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of...

Using a Twitter post, actress of Seinfeld and VEEP fame, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, announced she was recently diagnosed with breast cancer:

     

 

As is included above, the information revealed is quite limited (though this will likely change with time). Breast Cancer comes in many shapes and sizes in terms of tumor type, extent of spread, hormone-sensitivity, aggressiveness and so forth. The treatment options vary depending on these and a host of other factors. The therapeutics involved in...