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October 30, 2006, 5:09 PM CT

Breast Cancer Survivors Face Higher Suicide Rates

Breast Cancer Survivors Face Higher Suicide Rates
The burden is not over for patients with breast cancer even after the battle with breast cancer is won. A new study suggests that breast cancer survivors have an increased risk committing suicide in comparison to women in the general population. Survivors of breast cancer have as much as 37 percent increased risk of committing suicide in comparison to other women and this increased risk of suicide persist for more than 25 years after the diagnosis of breast cancer.

These study findings were published in a recent issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. There have been prior studies on this topic but none have undertaken such a long-term study of the subject and none of the studies included women from the United States of America.

This conclusion is from analysis of a large pool of data involving 723,810 breast cancer survivors who were diagnosed between 1953 and 2001 and were included in population-based cancer registries in the United States and Scandinavia.

The scientists have observed that during follow-up through 2002, a total of 836 women committed suicide. Compared with the general population the women with breast cancer had a suicide rate of 4.1 per 100,000 women per year.

Even after a period of 25 years, breast cancer survivors still had a 35 percent increased risk of committing suicide. Suicide rates were higher among African American women, with a 2.88-fold elevated risk. Scientists noted that the risk of committing suicide increases with increasing stage of breast cancer.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink

October 29, 2006, 7:17 PM CT

Chemo Drugs May Cause Cognitive Dysfunction

Chemo Drugs May Cause Cognitive Dysfunction
A new study investigating the effects of chemotherapy on cognitive function in mice has confirmed what a number of cancer patients receiving therapy have often complained about a decline in their memory and other cognitive functions, sometimes characterized as "chemobrain".

The study, led by Dr. Gordon Winocur of the Baycrest Research Centre for Aging and the Brain, in collaboration with Drs. Ian Tannock and Janette Vardy of Princess Margaret Hospital, was conducted at Trent University. The findings are published in the September 2006 issue of Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior (Vol. 85, Issue 1), which will be available online in the next week. The results were presented at a workshop held in conjunction with the 8th World Congress of Psycho-Oncology in Venice last week.

"In our study, we identified learning and memory deficits in the mild to moderate range in the drug-treated mice in comparison to the controls," says Dr. Winocur.

"That the deficits were relatively small is encouraging. It's important that cancer patients continue with these drugs and know that if they experience mild to moderate impairments in their cognitive functions, this level of change is potentially manageable".

While there is growing evidence from studies of cancer patients on chemotherapy that the chemobrain effect does exist, a number of of the studies have suffered from methodological limitations. These include small samples, less than adequate controls and failure to account for other factors, including disease-related complications and stress, which could affect performance.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

October 27, 2006, 5:15 AM CT

linking ethnic identity to breast cancer genes

linking ethnic identity to breast cancer genes BRCA
Genetic research over the past decade has linked Ashkenazi Jewish ethnicity to an increased risk for hereditary breast cancer, so much so that certain gene mutations have become known as "Jewish ancestral mutations." But a new study released in the recent issue of The American Journal of Public Health challenges this approach, warning that disparities in access to care and other unintended consequences can, and have, resulted.

The study, by Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons researchers, notes that while three recognized breast cancer mutations are present in 2-3 percent of the Ashkenazi Jewish population, similar prevalence studies have not been carried out in other ethnic groups. In addition, the study finds that research linking the breast cancer mutations with Ashkenazi Jews has been beset by methodological problems that cast doubt on the use of ethnicity as the basis for genetic research on disease.

"The linking of Ashkenazi Jews to a deadly disease raises serious scientific and social concerns," said co-author Sheila M. Rothman, PhD, Professor of Sociomedical Sciences at the Center for the Study of Society and Medicine. "Focusing genetic studies on a specific ethnic group confers disadvantages to that group and others. For Ashkenazi Jews it raises the risk of stigmatization and insurance or job discrimination. For other groups, it introduces a gap in access to testing and therapy".........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

October 27, 2006, 5:11 AM CT

Women With Mental Disorders And Mammograms

Women With Mental Disorders And Mammograms
Women with mental disorders are less likely to have screening mammograms than women without mental illness, although.

the nature of the mental illness does play a role, as per a large study published by Indiana University School of Medicine and Richard Roudebush VA Health Services Center for Excellence scientists in the recent issue of Journal of General Internal Medicine. Previous to this study, little was known about whether the type or severity of mental illness influences receipt of preventive services such as mammograms.

"Eventhough women with mental disorders are less likely to receive mammography than women who do not have mental disorders, we observed that both the type and severity of mental illness does influence the receipt of mammograms. Women with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia are significantly less likely to receive mammograms than women in the general population. However, women with mild depression do not differ markedly. But, as depression severity increases, so does the likelihood that women will not receive needed screening," said senior author Caroline Carney Doebbeling, M.D., M.Sc., associate professor of psychiatry and medicine at the I.U. School of Medicine. She is also a Regenstrief Institute, Inc. research scientist and director of the IU.........

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October 17, 2006, 9:54 PM CT

Femara More Effective Than Nolvadex

Femara More Effective Than Nolvadex
Scientists affiliated with the BIG-98 trial comparing Femara® (letrozole) to Nolvadex® (tamoxifen) have reported that longer follow-up confirms the superiority of Femara in postmenopausal women with early, hormone-positive breast cancer. The details of this follow-up study were presented at the 2006 annual European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) meeting in Istanbul in October.

Femara is an aromatase agent that is approved for first-line therapy of postmenopausal women with hormone receptor-positive or hormone receptor-unknown locally advanced breast cancer; metastatic breast cancer; advanced breast cancer in postmenopausal women with disease progression following anti-estrogen treatment; and as neo-adjuvant treatment. It is also approved for extended adjuvant treatment in early breast cancer, following 5 years of therapy with Nolvadex, based on phase III clinical trial results. Several clinical trials are ongoing to help elucidate optimal timing and/or sequencing of aromatase agents and Nolvadex in the therapy of hormone-positive women with breast cancer in the adjuvant setting, and it appears that aromatase agents are providing superior results to those of Nolvadex in several settings in the therapy of hormone-positive breast cancer.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

October 17, 2006, 9:45 PM CT

Ethnic Variations In Hormone Levels

Ethnic Variations In Hormone Levels
Scientists have known that a woman's natural hormone levels can affect her risk of developing breast cancer. A new study from the University of Southern California (USC) has observed that the natural levels of estrogens in post-menopausal women varies by ethnicity and race, and may explain the differences in the groups' breast cancer rates. The study appears in the recent issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Using data from the Multiethnic Cohort Study, V. Wendy Setiawan, Ph.D., assistant professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and her colleagues determined that of the five primary ethnicities/races in the cohort, native Hawaiians have the highest risk of breast cancer--65 percent greater than whites. They also had some of the highest levels of circulating estrogens.

"We had found that some groups, such as native Hawaiians have higher breast cancer rates in comparison to white women. We knew hormones are a factor, so we decided to test them," says Setiawan. "The research seems to support that idea".

The scientists also observed that Japanese-American women have comparatively high estrogen levels and the second highest breast cancer risk of the five groups. "This is interesting because breast cancer rates have been increasing steadily in Japanese women who live in the United States, as well as in women who live in Japan," Setiawan says. "We think it could be caused by changes in lifestyle that impact age at first menstruation or other factors."........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

October 17, 2006, 5:02 AM CT

Older Breast Cancer Patients May Be Under-treated

Older Breast Cancer Patients May Be Under-treated
Elderly breast cancer patients who received care in a community hospital setting may have been under-diagnosed, under-staged and under-treated, as per a report in the recent issue of Archives of Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

The number of older patients with breast cancer has increased along with overall elderly population, as per background information in the article. About half of patients with breast cancer are older than 65 years and 35 percent are older than 70; 77 percent of breast cancer deaths occur in women older than 55. Choosing the appropriate therapy for older patients is a challenge, because a number of have other serious illnesses in addition to their cancer that may threaten their health and shorten their lives. Questions remain about the best screening protocols for elderly women, as well. Some current guidelines suggest that women stop having mammograms at age 70, while others provide no upper limit.

David A. Litvak, M.D., then of Michigan State University, Lansing, and now at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Orange County, Calif., and Rajeev Arora, M.D., used a tumor registry database to identify 354 women age 70 or older who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 1992 and 2002 at a community hospital. The scientists studied the group of women as a whole and also divided them into three age groups for analysis: ages 70 to 74 (136 patients), 75 to 79 (115 patients) and 80 or older (103 patients).........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

October 17, 2006, 4:57 AM CT

Vitamin D Can Fight Breast Cancer

Vitamin D Can Fight Breast Cancer
Vitamin D may help curb breast cancer progression, as per a research studypublished recently in the Journal of Clinical Pathology.

The authors, from Imperial College London, measured the levels of vitamin D in the blood serum of 279 women with invasive breast cancer. The disease was in its early stages in 204 of the women, and advanced in the remaining 75.

The results showed that women with early stage disease had significantly higher levels of vitamin D (15 to 184 mmol/litre) than the women in the advanced stages of the disease (16 to 146 mmol/litre).

The authors say that the exact reasons for the disparity are not clear, nor is it known whether the lowered levels of vitamin D among those with advanced disease are a cause or a consequence of the cancer itself. However, the researchers' results, taken together with results from prior studies, lead them to think that lowered levels of vitamin D may promote the progression of the disease to its advanced stages.

Laboratory studies have shown that vitamin D stops cancer cells from dividing and enhances cancer cell death. Vitamin D sufficiency and exposure to sunlight has been shown to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. The body produces its own vitamin D in the skin when it is exposed to sunlight. The vitamin is also found in certain foods, including eggs and fatty fish.........

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October 12, 2006, 10:03 PM CT

Geometry Of Breast Cell Invasion

Geometry Of Breast Cell Invasion
Apropos of National Breast Cancer Awareness month, scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have created a first-of-its-kind model for studying how breast tissue is shaped and structured during development. The model may shed new light on how the misbehavior of only a few cells can facilitate metastatic invasion because it shows that the development of breast tissue, normal or abnormal, is controlled not only by genetics but also by geometry. Though created specifically for the study of breast tissue, this model should also be applicable to the study of tissue development in other organs as well.

"Our results reveal that tissue geometry can control the morphogenesis of breasts and other organs by defining the local cellular branching microenvironment," said Bissell, a Distinguished Scientist with Berkeley Lab's Life Sciences Division, who was the principal investigator for this study. "This finding is important not only for understanding how tissue and organs get their organized shapes and patterns, but may in the future reveal mechanisms to control cancer invasion and metastasis".

In a paper reported in the October 13, 2006 issue of the journal Science, Bissell and her collaborators describe a study in which the branching of mouse epithelial tubules (hollow tubes made from epithelial cells that form the network of milk ducts in the mature female breast) in culture were subjected to control through a three-dimensional micropatterned assay. Using a special algorithm to quantify the extent of branching, the scientists observed that the geometric shape of the tubules determines where branching takes place. This may potentially affect where and how a malignancy spreads.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

October 8, 2006, 6:17 PM CT

Breast Reconstruction Not Very Safe For Obese

Breast Reconstruction Not Very Safe For Obese
Significantly obese women may wish to consider delaying breast reconstruction following mastectomy until they achieve a healthier body weight. As per findings presented today at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) Plastic Surgery 2006 conference in San Francisco, women who are significantly obese are at higher risk for complications and have a lower satisfaction rate than do normal and overweight patients.

"Just because someone is overweight doesn't mean they should not be entitled to undergo breast reconstruction after mastectomy," said Elisabeth Beahm, MD, ASPS Member Surgeon, author of the study, and associate professor at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. "Feeling 'whole' can be an integral part of recovery from cancer, yet significant concerns have been raised about the wisdom of doing breast reconstruction in very obese patients due to a high complication rate.

The current retrospective study observed that patients with a BMI greater than 35 demonstrated significantly increased complication rates for all types of breast reconstruction, from implants to flaps. The complication rate approached 100 percent for morbidly obese patients with a BMI over 40.

"We investigated whether plastic surgeons can safely perform breast reconstruction for these patients or if we would be depriving them reconstruction simply because of empiric concerns for their weight," said Dr. Beahm. "We observed that significantly obese patients, those having a BMI of 35 or higher, had a higher risk for complications. Our experience suggests that in a number of cases it may be more prudent to delay breast reconstruction until the patient has lost weight".........

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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. Archives of breast-cancer-blog

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