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December 28, 2007, 8:10 AM CT

Taxol with avastin for metastatic breast cancer

Taxol with avastin for metastatic breast cancer
The positive results of the first nationwide clinical study showing the benefits of an antiangiogenic agent in breast cancer treatment are published in the Dec. 27 issue of the New England Journal (NEJM).

The study with Avastin showed the biggest improvement in metastatic breast cancer ever reported in a chemotherapy-based clinical trial. It nearly doubled the time between initiation of chemotherapy for metastatic disease and progression of the breast cancer tumors.

The study was coordinated by the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) and Kathy Miller, M.D., associate professor of medicine and Sheila D. Ward Scholar at the Indiana University School of Medicine, is the lead author.

Dr. Miller said she found the results exciting because this was the first study to show that an antiangiogenic agent can delay progression of advanced breast cancer. The study looked at Taxol (paclitaxel), which is one of the standard agents for metastatic disease, with and without the addition of Avastin (bevacizumab).

This study not only achieved the longest progression-free survival in advanced disease but the treatment achieved that improvement without adding to the day-to-day therapy burden and with only minor increases in toxicity, said Dr. Miller.

The study enrolled 722 women with metastatic disease from the United States, Canada, Peru and South Africa. Patients were randomized to one of two arms of the phase III study Taxol alone or Taxol with Avastin. The patients, who joined the study from December 2001 through May 2004, represented a balance of age, disease-free interval, estrogen-positive receptors and sites of disease.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 27, 2007, 9:07 AM CT

Bevacizumab improve survival in breast cancer

Bevacizumab improve survival in breast cancer
Inhibiting the growth of blood vessels that supply tumors slows the progression of metastatic breast cancer as per results of a large clinical trial of Avastin, an anti-angiogenic treatment. The study, reported in the December 27th issue of the New England Journal (NEJM), observed that Avastin in combination with chemotherapy significantly prolongs progression-free survival for women with breast cancer in comparison to chemotherapy alone.

Rush University Medical Center participated in the clinical trial which was sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and conducted by a network of scientists led by the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG).

The study of 722 women with recurrent (metastatic) breast cancer observed that the women who received Avastin in combination with standard chemotherapy had a doubling of delay in worsening of their cancer by approximately five months, on average, in comparison to patients treated with chemotherapy alone. Those on Avastin had progression-free survival of 11.3 months in comparison to 6 months on standard chemotherapy alone.

"This treatment is a one-two punch! You hit the tumor with the chemo and sabotage new blood vessel growth by restricting its oxygen supply with Avastin," said Dr. Melody Cobleigh, co-author of the study and director of the Coleman Foundation Comprehensive Breast Center at Rush. "This is a noteworthy advance in cancer therapy".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 29, 2007, 10:55 PM CT

Researchers link enzyme to breast cancer malignancy

Researchers link enzyme to breast cancer malignancy
This release is available in French.

McGill University scientists have uncovered the crucial role played by the enzyme focal adhesion kinase (FAK) in the onset of breast cancer. The research, led by Dr. William Muller along with colleagues from McGill and the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research in Scotland was published the week of November 26 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The study's first author is Dr. Hicham Lahlou, a post-doctoral fellow in Dr. Muller's lab.

Using transgenic mice with pre-existing cancers, the McGill team was able to disable the function of FAK in the mammary gland. "When we did that, we basically blocked tumour progression in our mouse model," said Dr. Muller, Professor of Biochemistry at McGill, Canada Research Chair in Molecular Oncology and a researcher with the Molecular Oncology Group at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). "This shows that FAK, which was already associated with tumour growth in skin carcinomas, is very critical for tumour progression from a pre-cancerous to a cancerous state in the mammary tumour system."

Dr. Muller and his team made a similar breakthrough with an earlier discovery in 2004, when they showed that the protein beta1-integrin was similarly critical in the initiation of tumour growth and development of breast cancer in genetically engineered mice. Likewise, when this gene was blocked, malignant tumours ceased to grow. The current discovery about FAK is an exciting sequel to the earlier research, says Dr. Muller, because, unlike beta1-integrin, kinase enzymes are eminently "druggable" with current technology.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 15, 2007, 10:19 PM CT

More Women Are Choosing Double Mastectomy

More Women Are Choosing Double Mastectomy
Scientists are reporting a 150 percent increase between 1998 and 2003 in American women opting to have both breasts removed when cancer has been found in only one breast-a procedure called contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM). This is the first study to examine these trends on a national level. The authors caution that this aggressive strategy may be unnecessary since most patients will never develop cancer in the second breast, and since the risk of cancer spreading to other parts of the body is often higher than the risk that cancer will be found in the second breast. The study will be published online October 22 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO).

"Eventhough breast cancer is now often diagnosed at earlier stages, we're seeing more women having contralateral prophylactic mastectomy, even though there are very little data showing that this irreversible procedure improves overall survival," explained lead author Todd M. Tuttle, MD, chief of surgical oncology and associate professor of surgery at the University of Minnesota. "We need to determine why this is occurring and use this information to help counsel women about the potential for less invasive options".

The scientists used the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database (which provides detailed information about cancer diagnosis and therapy for 16 areas in the United States) to review the therapy of patients with unilateral (one-sided) breast cancer diagnosed between 1998 and 2003. Among 152,755 women diagnosed with stage I, II or III breast cancer during this period, 59,460 underwent a single mastectomy; 4,969 other women who were candidates for a single mastectomy chose to have CPM as well. The CPM rate among those who were candidates for a single mastectomy rose from 4.2 percent in 1998 to 11 percent in 2003. Younger women, non-Hispanic whites and women with lobular breast cancers were more likely to have CPM.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 13, 2007, 9:13 PM CT

Real-Time Analysis of Breast Cancer Biopsies

Real-Time Analysis of Breast Cancer Biopsies
A sophisticated microscope that offers a "real-time" 3-D analysis of tissue samples might, in the future, reduce the number of needle biopsies traditionally needed from women suspected of having breast cancer, as per recent research published at Georgetown University Medical Center's Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Such an instant test would mean that physicians could immediately tell if they have collected adequate samples of breast tissue and limit the number of repeat biopsies, said the investigators, whose study appeared in the September/recent issue of the Journal of Biomedical Optics.

Currently, physicians extract 6-8 tissue samples during a needle biopsy procedure to ensure proper sampling of the area of concern. In addition, at least one day is mandatory to prepare the samples for analysis using traditional methods. The new technology is designed to limit patient discomfort and anxiety.

"With this microscope, we can tell instantly whether we have cancer cells or not, or what kind of cells we are looking at, whether they are fat, structural, or epithelial cells that line breast milk ducts-all of this could give us a great advantage in treating breast cancer," said the study's lead investigator, Maddalena T. Tilli, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Priscilla Furth, MD, at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of Georgetown University Medical Center.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 29, 2007, 7:16 PM CT

Breast cancer in African-American women

Breast cancer in African-American women
African American women are diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age and have larger tumors and more lymph node involvement than Caucasian women, a Yale School of Medicine researcher reported today.

Speaking at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology meeting in Los Angeles, Meena Moran, M.D., assistant professor of therapeutic radiology and Yale Cancer Center member, said her results were based on 2,164 Caucasian women and 207 African American women followed over a 30-year periodthe largest most comprehensive study of its kind to date. All underwent lumpectomies in which the tumor, not the entire breast, was removed.

The occurence rate of breast cancer is actually lower in African American women in comparison to Caucasian women, yet their mortality rates are higher, Moran said. We were surprised. Prior reports did not show higher relapse rates in African American women after surgery to conserve breast tissue. This might be because we had so a number of African American patients and a longer follow-up period.

She said there are several possible biological risk factors that need to be explored more fully. African American women have a lower level of estrogen/progesterone receptors, which means existing anti-estrogen therapies are not effective on these tumors. African American women have a higher rate of triple negative tumors, which have been linked to a worse outcome in early stage breast cancer. They also have a higher rate of mutation in the p53 gene, which normally acts to suppress tumors.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 28, 2007, 2:14 PM CT

Smoking breast cancer link

Smoking  breast cancer link
Smoking cigarettes is linked to an increased risk of cancers of the lung, head and neck, esophagus, bladder and a number of others and also affects response to anti-cancer therapys. But smoking does not result in more advanced stage diagnoses or aggressive breast cancers at the time of diagnosis. That is the result of an analysis of 35 years of data for more than 6,000 patients presented today at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncologys 49th Annual Meeting in Los Angeles.

We hypothesized that tobacco use could result in more advanced stage or more aggressive breast cancer presentation, but that doesnt appear to be the case, said Matthew Abramowitz, M.D.,a resident in the radiation oncology department at Fox Chase Cancer Center. There is no good news about smoking, but since about 10 percent of our patients are smokers, this research provides us with some relief. The question that remains is will smoking affect their survival?

Abramowitz and colleagues examined the medical records of 6,162 patients with breast cancer at the time of initial diagnosis from 1970 to 2006 at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. Patient characteristics were prospectively collected by doctor interview and questionnaire. Nine percent of the patients were current smokers when they were first seen for consultation.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 19, 2007, 4:54 AM CT

Exposure to sunlight may decrease breast cancer risk

Exposure to sunlight may decrease breast cancer risk
A research team from the Northern California Cancer Center, the University of Southern California, and Wake Forest University School of Medicine has observed that increased exposure to sunlight which increases levels of vitamin D in the body.

-- may decrease the risk of advanced breast cancer.

In a study reported online this week in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the scientists observed that women with high sun exposure had half the risk of developing advanced breast cancer, which is cancer that has spread beyond the breast, in comparison to women with low sun exposure. These findings were observed only for women with naturally light skin color. The study defined high sun exposure as having dark skin on the forehead, an area that is commonly exposed to sunlight.

The researchers used a portable reflectometer to measure skin color on the underarm, an area that is commonly not directly exposed to sunlight. Based on these measurements, they classified the women as having light, medium or dark natural skin color. Scientists then compared sun exposure between women with breast cancer and those without breast cancer. Sun exposure was measured as the difference in skin color between the underarm and the forehead.

In women with naturally light skin pigmentation, the group without breast cancer had significantly more sun exposure than the group with breast cancer. The fact that this difference occurred only in one group suggests that the effect was due to differences in vitamin D production and wasnt just because the women were sick and unable to go outdoors. In addition, the effect held true regardless of whether the cancer was diagnosed in the summer or in the winter. The difference was seen only in women with advanced disease, suggesting that vitamin D may be important in slowing the growth of breast cancer cells.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 8, 2007, 8:36 AM CT

Hip size of mothers linked to breast cancer in daughters

Hip size of mothers linked to breast cancer in daughters
In a study of the maternity records of more than 6,000 women, David J.P. Barker, M.D., Ph.D., and Kent Thornburg, Ph.D., of Oregon Health & Science University discovered a strong connection between the size and shape of a womans hips and her daughters risk of breast cancer. Wide, round hips, the scientists postulated, represent markers of high sex hormone concentrations in the mother, which increase her daughters vulnerability to breast cancer.

A womans hips are shaped at puberty when the growth of the hip bones is controlled by sex hormones but is also influenced by the level of nutrition. Every woman has a unique sex hormone profile which is established at puberty and persists through her reproductive life. The studys findings show for the first time that the pubertal growth spurt of girls is strongly linked to the risk of breast cancer in their daughters.

The study, carried out with colleagues in Finland and the United Kingdom., is described in an article just published online by the peer-evaluated American Journal of Human Biology. The authors followed up on 6,370 women born in Helsinki from 1934 to 1944 whose mothers pelvic bones were measured during routine prenatal care. The study observed that breast cancer rates were more than three times higher among the women in the cohort, born at or after term, whose mothers had wide hips. They were more than seven times higher if those mothers had already given birth to one or more children.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 1, 2007, 5:41 AM CT

Residual fetal cells in women may provide protection against breast cancer

Residual fetal cells in women may provide protection against breast cancer
Fetal cells that persist in a womans body long after pregnancy a common occurrence known in scientific circles as fetal microchimerism in some cases may reduce the womans risk of breast cancer, as per scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The findings, reported in the Oct. 1 issue of Cancer Research, add to the Jekyll and Hyde characteristics of fetal microchimerism, or FMc, which has been found to be both detrimental and beneficial to womens health.

In this latest prospective study, researchers V.K. Gadi, M.D., Ph.D. and J. Lee Nelson, M.D., examined the blood of 82 women post-pregnancy, 35 of whom had had breast cancer. They looked for male DNA in the blood, presuming it was present due to a previous pregnancy. Fetal microchimerism (FMc) was found significantly more often in healthy women than women with a history of breast cancer, 43 percent versus 14 percent respectively. The researchers concluded that FMc may contribute to reduction of breast cancer based on the hypothesis that residual fetal cells may provide immune surveillance of cancerous cells in the mother. They caution that further studies are needed to confirm the theory.

To our knowledge, the current results provide the first indication that FMc could impart a protective effect against breast cancer, Gadi said.........

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.

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