More breast cancers have been found at earlier — and potentially more treatable — stages since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, as reported in the New York Times.

The study, published in Cancer Epidemiology, adjusted for other variables and found that after Obamacare, the percentage of cancers diagnosed at the earliest stage increased by 3.2 percent for white women, 4.0 percent for blacks and 4.1 percent for Latinas.

The change is traced to a provision in the Affordable Care Act – popularly known as Obamacare – preventing private insurance companies nor Medicare from charging co-payments for mammography screening.

Learn more by reading the full report in the New York Times, and the study in the journal Cancer Epidemiology.

Posted in Early Detection, Information Strength, Mammograms, Newly diagnosed breast cancer, News, Research News, We Live You®: The Latest | Tagged | Comments Off

According to researchers from Rutgers University, there is a chance that specific hair care products may lead to breast cancer.

Here’s what the researchers found:

Dark-hued hair dyes (dark brown or black) were associated with a 51 percent increased overall risk of developing breast cancer among African-American women and a 72 percent increased risk of estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer among African-Americans.

The medical investigators also concluded that the use of chemical relaxers or straighteners was associated with a 74 percent increased risk among Caucasians, with some differences in breast cancer risk observed by estrogen-receptor status.

Learn more by reading the media release by Rutgers University researchers.

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A classic company founder origin story is that they find a pain point, look around for a ready-made solution, discover that there isn’t one — and start a company to solve their own problem.

Dana Donofree, founder of AnaOno, accomplished this very thing, only her pain was literal, not metaphorical, in this report from Forbes.

Donofree was diagnosed with breast cancer the day before her 28th birthday. That was in 2010, seven years ago, now. She did a year of therapy. She underwent a double mastectomy with reconstructive surgery. She had six rounds of chemotherapy, a year of additional treatment, and she’s on continuous hormonal therapy to keep her cancer away.

She discovered, during all this, that she couldn’t find a bra that worked for her post-cancer body. She was a fashion designer, and she ultimately decided to make the perfect bra herself.

Read Donofree’s complete story in Forbes, and listen to the interview to hear her explain in greater detail what AnaOno does—and why those who have experienced breast cancer truly need special bras.

Posted in Emotional Reconstruction®, Information Strength, Online Resource, Patients Speak, Video, We Live You®: The Latest | Tagged , | Comments Off

Women who carry genetic mutations in the “breast cancer genes,” called BRCA1 and BRCA2, have about a 70 percent chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetimes, according to a new study published in the journal JAMA, as reported in Live Science.

The new study also found that breast cancer risk in women with these mutations could vary — by as much as twofold — depending on whether the women had specific mutations within their genes. In addition, having close family members with the disease also indicated a greater increase in risk.

The findings suggest that health professionals who counsel women who have BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations about their risk of breast cancer should take into account both a patient’s family history and the particular location on the gene of the individual’s mutation, researchers said.

Previous studies have estimated that the lifetime risk of breast cancer ranges from 40 to 87 percent for women with BRCA1 gene mutations, and 27 to 84 percent for women with BRCA2 gene mutations, according to the researchers. In contrast, the average American woman has about a 12 percent chance of developing breast cancer by age 85, according to the Susan G. Komen foundation.

The findings “demonstrate the potential importance of family history and mutation location in risk assessment” of breast cancer, researchers said.

Learn more in Live Science, by reading the study, and by watching the video above from the Breast Cancer Answers information channel – and site – provided by breast cancer expert Dr. Jay Harness.

Posted in Clinical Trials, Dr. Jay Harness Expertise, Genetic Screening & Testing, Information Strength, Prevention, Research News, Video, We Live You®: The Latest | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Women with breast cancer have long faced complicated choices about the best post-surgical course of treatment, as discussed in this column from medical researchers published in The Conversation.

One particular concern has been the traditional daily radiation therapy many women with breast cancer receive for six to seven weeks after surgery.

This form of therapy, also known as conventionally fractionated external beam radiation, has generally been recommended for most women undergoing breast conservation therapy.

The goal is to rid the body of any remaining cancerous cells that the surgeon’s tools could not remove.

Newer therapies shorten the length of conventional radiotherapy from six weeks to three weeks, or deliver a single dose at during the lumpectomy surgical procedure in the operating room.

A shorter course of radiation, such as hypofractionated radiation, in which a portion of the breast is treated for three weeks – offers more convenience.

And a single dose of radiation is much cheaper than whole breast radiation therapy delivered over multiple weeks, but is associated with a slightly higher risk of local recurrence.

So which these three options should patients and physicians more often choose: [1] conventional radiation therapy of 6-7 weeks, [2] shorter-course radiotherapy for 3-4 weeks, or [3] single dose intraoperative radiation therapy delivered during surgery?

As discussed by Ashish A. Deshmukh and Anna Likhacheva in their recently published paper appearing in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the authors offer an answer as to which of these three radiotherapy treatment options should be preferred – an answer they believe can save our health care system nearly US$100 million every year.

Learn more in The Conversation, and watch breast cancer expert Dr. Jay Harness discuss the topic of radiation therapy for lumpectomy patients in the video above.

Posted in Breast Cancer Surgery, Dr. Jay Harness Expertise, Information Strength, Radiation Therapy, Research News, Video, We Live You®: The Latest | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

A group of prominent cancer doctors is planning a novel assault on high drug costs, using clinical trials to show that many oncology medications could be taken at lower doses or for shorter periods without hurting their effectiveness, in this report from the Washington Post.

They recently created a nonprofit organization, the Value in Cancer Care consortium, to organize their work.

As Exhibit A, they point to their pilot study involving a widely prescribed drug for advanced prostate cancer. Cutting the standard dose of Zytiga by three-quarters was as effective as taking the full amount — as long as patients swallowed the medication with a low-fat breakfast rather than on an empty stomach, as directed by the label.

“It’s inefficient, even wasteful, to take this medicine while fasting,” University of Chicago oncologist Russell Szmulewitz said in presenting the data at a conference earlier this year. Reducing the dosage of the $9,400-a-month medication as studied would sharply lower costs even for well-insured patients, he said.

The group also wants to test whether some non-cancer drugs that show anti-tumor activity could be used as cheaper substitutes for expensive oncology therapies.

For example, an inexpensive immunosuppressant called Rapamune, or sirolimus, has many similarities to an expensive medication called Afinitor, which is used for breast and kidney cancers. “There is a reasonable expectation that sirolimus would be functionally very similar,” Saltz said.

Learn more by reading the full story in The Washington Post.

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How do we treat advanced cancers that have resisted every standard treatment?

This report in the New York Times discusses an answer that already carries promise.

In a trial of 86 cancer patients, with tumors of the pancreas, prostate, uterus or bone, all had advanced disease that had resisted every standard treatment.

All carried genetic mutations that disrupted the ability of cells to fix damaged DNA. And all were enrolled in a trial of a drug that helps the immune system attack tumors.

The results, published in the journal Science, are so striking that the Food and Drug Administration already has approved the drug, pembrolizumab, brand name Keytruda, for patients whose cancers arise from the same genetic abnormality.

It is the first time a drug has been approved for use against tumors that share a certain genetic profile, whatever their location in the body. Tens of thousands of cancer patients each year could benefit.

“This is absolutely brilliant,” said Dr. José Baselga, physician in chief at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, which has just hired the study’s lead investigator, Dr. Luis A. Diaz Jr.

After taking pembrolizumab, 66 patients had their tumors shrink substantially and stabilize, instead of continuing to grow. Among them were 18 patients whose tumors vanished and have not returned.

Learn more by reading the full story in the New York Times, by review of the Science study.

Also, check out this story in the Los Angeles Times.

Posted in Clinical Trials, Emotional Reconstruction®, Genetic Screening & Testing, Information Strength, Research News, We Live You®: The Latest | Tagged , | Comments Off

Women who have had early-stage breast cancer and become pregnant do not have a greater chance of recurrence and death than those who do not get pregnant, according to results released from the largest study to ever explore the issue, in this story from the Washington Post.

The study is the first to focus specifically on the safety of pregnancy for women whose cancers are fueled by estrogen.

Researchers said their conclusions should allay concerns among some doctors and patients that pregnancy, which results in a surge in estrogen levels, could put these women at risk by encouraging the growth of any cancer cells that might remain in the body after treatment.

“Over the long term, having a pregnancy is safe,” said lead study author Matteo Lambertini, an oncologist at the Institut Jules Bordet in Brussels. “We were very happy to see that.”

Learn more by reading the full story at the Washington Post, and the study in this abstract.

And watch breast cancer expert Dr. Jay Harness address this question in the above video from 2013.

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