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Advanced breast cancer patients need quality sleep, not quantity

Written by Community Health Network on 5/7/2014 12:00:00 PM

An American Academy of Sleep Medicine study reports the ratio of time asleep to time spent in bed is predictive of survival time for women with advanced breast cancer. The researchers found disruptive sleep patterns impacts the immune function of the cancer patient which decreases survival during a six year period.

"We were surprised by the magnitude of the relationship between sleep quality and overall survival even after we accounted for medical and psychological variables that typically predict survival," said lead author Oxana Palesh, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and research director of the Stanford Cancer Survivorship. "Good sleep seems to have a strongly protective effect, even with advanced breast cancer."

This study involved 97 women (average age 55) with advanced breast cancer. Overall, participants spent approximately eight hours in bed each night but slept only slept for about six and a half hours. Full article >>

Sources: Science Daily and Sleep


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)


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