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Fertility drugs not linked to increased breast cancer risk

Written by Community Health Network on 4/7/2014 10:00:00 AM

A 30-year follow-up study of more than 12,000 women shows if they took fertility drugs (clomiphene citrate or gonadotropins) this treatment did not increase their risk for developing breast cancer.

Previous studies have reported conflicting results, from increased and decreased risk, to no association. Overall, during the 30-year period, only 749 of the women in this study were diagnosed with breast cancer.

However, if women received up to 12 fertility treatment cycles and were unable to become pregnant, their risk for developing breast cancer was increased. The leading author on the study noted that the cancer risk to these women “may be related to persistent infertility rather than an effect of the fertility medications.”

Source: National Cancer Institute–funded study, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention


Breast cancer prevention should start early

Written by Community Health Network on 3/26/2014 2:15:00 PM

Take steps now to prevent breast cancer

An article published in The Cancer Journal for Clinicians, Wednesday, states that half of breast cancers in the U.S. might be avoided if women adopted healthier lifestyles sooner in life, and the highest-risk women took preventive drugs like tamoxifen.

The article reviews breast cancer primary prevention strategies that are applicable to all women, discusses the underutilization of chemoprevention in high-risk women, highlights the additional advances that could be made by including young women in prevention efforts.

"This article is re-stating many things we have known for some time regarding breast cancer prevention," said Dr. Robert Goulet, breast surgeon and MD Anderson certified physician with Community Physician Network. "However, I agree that we don’t place enough emphasis on preventive strategies at all ages."

Goulet states that there are simple lifestyle modifications that women should make to decrease their risk.

"There is irrefutable evidence that, through study of women over decades, as little as 30 minutes of vigorous exercise three times a week leads to significant reduction in breast cancer risk," he said. "Weight control has also been implicated, and I think that goes hand in hand with exercise strategy."

A healthy diet with emphasis on trying to minimize weight gain is also incredibly important, and that includes a decrease in alcohol consumption.

Robert J. Goulet, breast cancer specialist"There are recent studies that clearly demonstrate that women who drink as little as one ounce of alcohol at least three times a week have an increased risk of developing breast cancer," said Goulet. "The impact of exposure to carcinogens such as alcohol begin at we believe a very early age. So recognition of the fact that you have the ability to change risk has to occur at a younger age."

With respect to drugs such as tamoxifen and raloxifene, Goulet states that there is a fair amount of controversy regarding the use of those drugs. continue reading ...


Yoga improves quality of life for breast cancer patients

Written by Community Health Network on 3/10/2014 10:00:00 AM

New research from the MD Anderson Cancer Center™ finds that yoga can improve quality of life for women undergoing radiation treatment for breast cancer.

Already known to help with fatigue, the research shows that the benefits of yoga may extend far beyond that.

The researchers split more than 191 participants into three groups: a yoga group who focused on all aspects of the exercise, a group that just used stretching techniques from yoga, and a control group.

It was found that the simple stretching exercises counteract fatigue, but patients who participated in yoga exercises that incorporated controlled breathing, meditation and relaxation techniques into their treatment plan also experienced improved ability to engage in their daily activities, better general health, and better regulation of cortisol (stress hormone).

Yoga helps breast cancer patients manage illness and treatment

Women in the yoga group were also better equipped to find meaning in the illness experience, which declined over time for the women in the other two groups.

“Combining mind and body practices that are part of yoga clearly have tremendous potential to help patients manage the psychosocial and physical difficulties associated with treatment and life after cancer, beyond the benefits of simple stretching,” said Dr. Lorenzo Cohen, professor and director of the Integrative Medicine Program at MD Anderson.

To learn more about the benefits of yoga for breast cancer patients and survivors, read this post.

Source: MDAnderson.org


Scientists find bladder cancer similar to breast cancer

Written by Community Health Network on 2/20/2014 8:30:00 PM

Using genetic testing, scientists at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center™ identified a resemblance between muscle invasive bladder cancer and three of the four sub-types of breast cancer (published in Cancer Cell February 2014). They found that the bladder cancer genes look very similar to some breast cancers.

“Several of our findings have immediate potential impact on how we address muscle-invasive bladder cancer with chemotherapy,” said study senior author David McConkey, Ph.D., professor of Urology. “These dormant (bladder) cells evade chemotherapy, which preferentially kills dividing cells.”

By taking expertise used in treating breast cancer with chemotherapy and applying it to the treatment of muscle invasive bladder cancer, patients could benefit.

As reported by MD Anderson Cancer Center, the muscle-invasive disease only makes up about 30 percent of bladder cancer cases, but causes the vast majority of deaths. It’s treated with chemotherapy, surgery and radiation.

“We know that cisplatin-based chemotherapy combinations work for about 30-40 percent of cases, but there’s no way to identify patients in advance who are likely to benefit,” McConkey said.

McConkey and colleagues identified a basal subtype of invasive bladder cancer that’s aggressive but vulnerable to chemotherapy and a p53-like luminal subtype that’s highly resistant to chemotherapy. These observations could lead to pre-treatment tumor analysis that guides the chemotherapy decision. (Full press release)


Cancer answers: Am I at high risk for breast cancer?

Written by Community Health Network on 2/13/2014 1:15:00 PM

There's a lot of chatter in the news about whether or not mammograms are useful at detecting breast cancer. A recent study by the British Medical Journal reported that screening mammograms could lead to overdiagnosis and treatment. We know you have questions, so we asked our experts to weigh in.

“Personalized medicine and empowering women with the right information is what we do,” said Robert J. Goulet, M.D., FACS, Community Breast Care specialist and an MD Anderson Cancer Network™ certified physician. “Breast cancers grow slowly, and that gives women the opportunity to become well informed and not make rash decisions. That’s not to say that we don’t react quickly to, we do, as attested by our 24-hour appointment response to each call we receive from a patient at Community.” 

Many breast cancers are actually detected by mammograms before any symptoms appear and can help women who are diagnosed early increase their risk of survival. So, our physicians recommend asking yourself five questions to start to determine your cancer risk and get to know symptoms of breast cancer.

  1. Do you have a history of radiation treatment to the chest for any medical condition? 
  2. Do you have a genetic mutation linked to breast cancer? Gene abnormalities include BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, or the syndromes Li-Fraumeni, CDH1, Cowden’s, or Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba. 
  3. Do you have a history of lobular neoplasia (LCIS) or atypical ductal Hyperplasia (ADH)? Also, called LCIS, this condition is not considered breast cancer, but a risk factor. LCIS is an area of abnormal cell growth in the lobules (the milk-producing glands at the end of breast ducts) that begins in the breast tissue and remains in the lobule and does not spread. 
  4. Do you have a family history of breast cancer? And if so, were these women diagnosed before the age of 50? 
  5. Know your reproduction and menstrual history. Did you begin your period before the age of 12, start menopause after the age of 55, have your first-full term pregnancy after the age of 30, or never had a full-term pregnancy or are obese after menopause? 
There are other risk factors including regular alcohol consumption, long-term use of supplemental estrogen and progestin menopausal hormone therapies. Postmenopausal women who are obese but have not used hormone therapy are also at high risk.

After answering these five questions, you can actually calculate your risk of developing breast cancer using the American Cancer Society's calculator. The NCI breast cancer risk calculator and other online surveys are a tool to getting better informed, but Community Breast Care specialists say it’s just a starting point.

“These are exciting times for breast cancer diagnosis and treatment,” said Dr. Goulet. “We have the latest, cutting-edge tests onsite including second generation genetic testing. It’s truly ‘STAR WARS' medicine and we have the ability to make a confident diagnosis within 48-72 hours. Now, add our affiliation with the MD Anderson Cancer Network™ and patients are getting an expertise in breast care like none before." continue reading ...


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April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month

Did you know testicular cancer affects men as young as 15? Visit our website to learn more about testicular cancer and how to protect yourself with a self-exam.

Learn more about testicular cancer in April


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