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September 29, 2010, 10:52 PM CT

Women treated for breast cancer while pregnant have improved survival

Women treated for breast cancer while pregnant have improved survival
Jennifer Litton, M.D., is an assistant professor in MD Anderson's Department of Breast Medical Oncology.

Credit: MD Anderson

Long linked to a worse outcome, scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have discovered that women treated for breast cancer while pregnant, in fact, have improved disease-free survival and a trend for improved overall survival in comparison to non-pregnant women treated for the disease.

Jennifer Litton, M.D., assistant professor in MD Anderson's Department of Breast Medical Oncology, presented the findings in a poster discussion session at the 2010 Breast Cancer Symposium.

"Until now, older registry studies showed that patients with breast cancer treated while pregnant had a worse outcome. However, in the past, these patients weren't always treated consistently with standard of care chemotherapy and often delayed their treatment until after delivery." said Litton, the study's first and corresponding author. "Given MD Anderson's experience in treating pregnant patients and our registry, we were able to look at these women treated by the same physicians, at the same institution, with the same standard of care".

In 1992, Richard Theriault, D.O., professor in the Department of Breast Medical Oncology, opened the first protocol examining a chemotherapeutic regimen for the management of these patients. He later published seminal studies proving that the regimen was safe for both pregnant mother and unborn child; it has since been adopted as the standard of care. MD Anderson has the oldest, active prospective registry in the world following the health of pregnant patients with breast cancer and their children.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


September 20, 2010, 7:23 AM CT

Genetic variants modifying breast cancer risk

Genetic variants modifying breast cancer risk
Individuals with disrupting mutations in the BRCA1 gene are known to be at substantially increased risk of breast cancer throughout their lives. Now, discoveries from an international research team led by Mayo Clinic scientists show that some of those persons may possess additional genetic variants that modify their risk. These new findings enhancing individualized medicine appear in the current Nature Genetics

"These findings should be useful in helping determine individual risk for breast cancer in BRCA1 carriers," says Fergus Couch, Ph.D., Mayo investigator and senior author of the study. "It also provides insights into hormone-receptor-negative breast cancer in the general population".

Genetic mutations in the BRCA1 gene give carriers of these mutations an increased risk for developing breast cancer. To determine if any genetic variations would modify or alter this risk among large populations of the mutation carriers, the scientists conducted genome-wide association studies (GWAS) that ultimately spanned 20 research centers in 11 different countries.

They first studied 550,000 genetic alterations from across the human genome in 1,193 carriers of BRCA1 mutations under age 40 who had invasive breast cancer and compared the alterations to those in 1,190 BRCA1 carriers of similar age without breast cancer. The 96 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) discovered were subsequently studied in a larger sample population of roughly 3,000 BRCA1 carriers with breast cancer and 3,000 carriers without cancer. Scientists found five SNPs linked to breast cancer risk in a region of chromosome 19p13.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


September 20, 2010, 7:12 AM CT

Better marker for breast cancer

Better marker for breast cancer
A scanning electron micrograph of porous silica microspheres filled with perfluoropentane vapor. This new material, invented at the University of California -- San Diego, is visible with Doppler ultrasound, sticks to breast tissue and can mark the location of tumors too small to be seen or felt during surgery.

Credit: Paul Martinez, UCSD

A new material could help surgeons more accurately locate breast cancers, reduce the need for second surgeries and minimize pre-surgical discomfort for patients. Microscopic gas-filled spheres of silica, a porous glass, can mark the location of early-stage tumors to show their position using ultrasound imaging in the operating room.

A team of chemists, radiologists and surgeons at the University of California, San Diego, created the new material, which they describe in a forthcoming issue of the journal MedChemComm

The X-rays used to make mammograms reveal calcium deposits linked to breast cancer even in tumors too small to be felt. But surgeons can't use X-rays while operating. Instead, radiologists place guide wires into tumors hours or even the day before surgery. The wires don't mark depth well and can shift. Patients find them both uncomfortable and unsettling.

As an alternative, the scientists created spheres of silica and filled them with perfluoropentane, a gas that has been used before in short-lived contrast materials for medical imaging. The rigid silica shells help the new material last longer.

"These little gas-filled microbubbles stick to human breast tissue for days and can be seen with ultrasound," said William Trogler, professor chemistry. "If doctors placed them in early stage breast cancer, which is difficult to see during surgery, they could help surgeons remove all of it in the first operation".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


September 1, 2010, 7:13 AM CT

High-fat diet during puberty linked to breast cancer

High-fat diet during puberty linked to breast cancer
Girls eating a high-fat diet during puberty, even those who do not become overweight or obese, appears to be at a greater risk of developing breast cancer during the later part of life, as per Michigan State University researchers.

The implications - that a high-fat diet may have detrimental effects independent of its effect to cause obesity - could drive new cancer prevention efforts.

The findings come from research at MSU's Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Center, established in 2003 and funded through 2010 by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Cancer Institute.

Physiology professor Sandra Haslam, director of the center, and Richard Schwartz, microbiology professor and associate dean in the College of Natural Science, are now expanding that research with a new, five-year, $2.3 million federal grant. They will use that funding to continue their work studying the impact of prenatal-to-adult environmental exposures that predispose women to breast cancer as part of the extended nationwide Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program.

"The pubertal time period is crucial, as this is when the basic framework is created for mammary gland development," Haslam said. "What we are seeing from preliminary research in animals is that a high-fat diet during puberty can lead to the production of inflammatory products in the mammary glands of adults, which can promote cancer growth".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


August 23, 2010, 7:14 AM CT

Protein made by breast cancer gene purified

Protein made by breast cancer gene purified
A key step in understanding the origins of familial breast cancer has been made by two teams of researchers at the University of California, Davis. The scientists have purified, for the first time, the protein produced by the breast cancer susceptibility gene BRCA2 and used it to study the oncogene's role in DNA repair.

The results will be published online Aug. 22 in the journals Nature, and Nature Structural and Molecular Biology. They open new possibilities for understanding, diagnosing and perhaps treating breast cancer.

BRCA2 is known to be involved in repairing damaged DNA, but exactly how it works with other molecules to repair DNA has been unclear, said Stephen Kowalczykowski, distinguished professor of microbiology in the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences, UC Davis Cancer Center member and senior author of the Nature paper.

"Having the purified protein makes possible far more detailed studies of how it works," Kowalczykowski said.

Kowalczykowski's group has purified the protein from human cells; another group led by Professor Wolf-Dietrich Heyer, also in the UC Davis Department of Microbiology and leader of the Cancer Center's molecular oncology program, used genetic engineering techniques to manufacture the human protein in yeast. That work is published in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


August 11, 2010, 7:03 AM CT

Breast cancer among progestin HRT users

Breast cancer among progestin HRT users
Salman Hyder, the Zalk Endowed Professor in Tumor Angiogenesis and professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center.
Progestins are used in hormone replacement therapies to counteract the negative effects of estrogen on the uterus and reduce the risk of uterine cancer. However, evidence in recent studies and clinical trials has demonstrated that progestins increase the risk of breast cancer. Now, University of Missouri scientists have compared four types of progestins used in hormone replacement therapies and found significantly different outcomes on the progression of breast cancer in an animal model depending on the type of progestins used.

"Synthetic progestins have different biological effects, due to differences in their structure, stability and how they interact in the body," said Salman Hyder, the Zalk Endowed Professor in Tumor Angiogenesis and professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center. "Clinical use of progestins requires caution. These powerful steroids should only be prescribed when a person has no latent, or dormant, cancer and does not have a family history of cancer. However, it is difficult to diagnose latent tumor cells in women since there are no symptoms".

In the study, scientists compared the effects of four clinically relevant progestins on breast cancer tumors in an animal model. The progestins used in the study were the synthetic progestin medroxporgresterone acetate (MPA), norgesterel (N-EL), norethindrone (N-ONE) and megestrol acetate (MGA). In the United States, most women on hormone replacement treatment are treated with MPA, the progestin in Prempro, Hyder said.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


August 10, 2010, 6:50 AM CT

Breast Cancer and Body Rhythms

Breast Cancer and Body Rhythms
For years, researchers thought that the function of biological clocks was relatively straightforward. Now, NSF-supported research by Jonathan Arnold, a geneticist, Heinz-Bernd Schuttler, a computational physicist, and their colleagues at the University of Georgia is showing that the number of genes in bread mold (Neurospora crassa) under the control of the biological clock is dramatically higher than anyone ever suspected. "We're just now beginning to see why the clock is so far-reaching in its effects on the organism," says Arnold. Read more details in this discovery.


Credit: Andrew Tucker, University of Georgia
"One minute you're a healthy person, the next minute you have breast cancer".

Ettamay (last name withheld) is up early these days. She lives a much different life than she did when she was a nurse working the night shifts. She would be just getting to sleep at this early morning hour.

"I was always exhausted," she says. "I don't know any of the nurses, particularly the night shift gals, that weren't exhausted all the time".

She wonders if her crazy work schedule might have contributed to her breast cancer.

Virginia Tech molecular biologist Carla Finkielstein says studies back up Ettamay's suspicions. "There are many epidemiological studies that show women working night shifts have a higher occurence rate of breast cancer," she says.

Finkielstein is studying this question microscopically, one cell at a time. She wants to know the impact of night-shift work on a woman's physiology. Can working odd hours actually alter a woman's body chemistry--turning healthy cells into cancer cells?

"What we're trying to understand is how changes in environmental conditions influence the expression of genes that regulate cell division," explains Finkielstein.

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Finkielstein uses frog embryos to help figure out on a molecular basis the physiological changes in women who work the night shift. She says studies show that working "night owls" have abnormal levels of specific proteins in their cells, which act by turning on and off genes that regulate how cells grow and divide. Finkielstein injects some of the molecules into frog cells to study their effects.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 23, 2010, 7:06 AM CT

African ancestry linked to high-risk breast cancer

African ancestry linked to high-risk breast cancer
Lisa A. Newman, M.D., M.P.H.
A newly released study finds that African ancestry is associated with triple-negative breast cancer, a more aggressive type of cancer that has fewer therapy options.

Scientists at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center observed that, among women with breast cancer, 82 percent of African women were triple negative, 26 percent of African-Americans were and 16 percent of white Americans were.

Triple negative breast cancer is negative for three specific markers that are used to determine therapy: the estrogen receptor, the progesterone receptor and HER-2/neu.

"The most significant recent advances in breast cancer therapy have involved targeting these three receptors. But these therapys do not help women with triple-negative breast cancer. Outcome disparities are therefore likely to increase, because fewer African-American women are candidates for these newer therapys," says study author Lisa A. Newman, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Breast Care Center at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The study, published online in the journal Cancer, looked at 581 African American women and 1,008 white women diagnosed with breast cancer at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, plus 75 African women diagnosed at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Ghana.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 9, 2010, 6:55 AM CT

Changing the cancer cell to respond to tamoxifen

Changing the cancer cell to respond to tamoxifen
Tamoxifen is a drug, taken orally as a tablet, which interferes with the activity of estrogen, a female hormone.

Using a small molecule decoy, researchers funded by the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation have managed to block protein interactions and induce epigenetic reprogramming in human and mouse breast cancer cells, essentially changing the gene expression of breast cancer cells to behave in a more normal manner. The research illustrates what may perhaps become an effective targeted epigenetic treatment in breast cancer. Interestingly, the targeted therapy showed exciting results in triple-negative breast cancer cells, reverting their function and appearance, and sensitizing them to tamoxifen and retinoids.

By introducing a small peptide, called the SID decoy, to interfere with protein binding in the Sin 3 PAH2 domain, researchers reduced the growth of triple-negative cancer cells by 80 percent. The decoy also blocked cancer cell invasion, which may shed light on preventing metastasis. The study was reported in the June 29 print edition of the journal of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Triple-negative breast cancer is an aggressive form of breast cancer more usually diagnosed in young women, African-American women and women with BRCA-1 mutated cancers, said medical oncologist Samuel Waxman, M.D., the study's senior author. Currently, the only therapy options that women with triple-negative breast cancer have are radiation treatment, surgery and chemotherapy. Women with triple-negative breast cancer do not respond to hormonal treatment or Herceptin and have a higher recurrence rate after chemotherapy.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 8, 2010, 6:43 AM CT

Fish oil may reduce risk of breast cancer

Fish oil may reduce risk of breast cancer
Emily White, Ph.D., is a member of the public health sciences division.

Credit: Emily White, Ph.D.

A recent report in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, adds to the growing evidence that fish oil supplements may play a role in preventing chronic disease.

Scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Wash., led by Emily White, Ph.D., a member of the public health sciences division, asked 35,016 postmenopausal women who did not have a history of breast cancer to complete a 24-page questionnaire about their use of non-vitamin, non-mineral "specialty" supplements in the Vitamins and Lifestyle (VITAL) cohort study.

After six years of follow-up, 880 cases of breast cancer were identified using the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results registry.

Regular use of fish oil supplements, which contain high levels of the omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, was linked with a 32 percent reduced risk of breast cancer. The reduction in risk appeared to be restricted to invasive ductal breast cancer, the most common type of the disease.

The use of other specialty supplements, a number of of which are usually taken by women to treat symptoms of menopause, was not linked to breast cancer risk.

This research is the first to demonstrate a link between the use of fish oil supplements and a reduction in breast cancer. Studies of dietary intake of fish or omega-3 fatty acids have not been consistent.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source



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Breast cancer
Every year, more than 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States. Breast cancer ranks second as the leading cause of cancer deaths in American women. Until recently breast cancer topped the list of leading causes of cancer deaths in women, but lately lung cancer has claimed the top position. If skin cancer is excluded, breast cancer is the commonest cancer among American women.

Medicineworld.org: Archives of breast-cancer-blog

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