Does Breast Cancer Surgery Cause Metastatic Disease?

15 April 2018 Press coverage of a study recently published in the journal Science Translational Medicine has raised a lot of eyebrows and may be causing unnecessary worry in patients. The headline in USA Today noted “Healing process after breast cancer surgery may trigger cancer to spread, study says.” Not mentioned in the headline: the study was performed in mice.…

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Why I Post, Tweet and Blog

19 March 2018 I am often asked why I take the time to post on social media sites, and the answer is simple – it’s a way to reach patients and others who are interested in the content. As physicians, one of our primary roles is patient education, and there is a limit to how many we can reach in…

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Direct to Consumer Genetic Testing

8 March 2018 The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just approved an at-home test for certain DNA abnormalities known to be associated with an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer. This is the first approval for a direct-to-consumer (DTC) breast cancer genetic test. Approximately 15% of patients diagnosed with breast cancer will be found to carry a…

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Breast Cancer Treatment and Risk of Heart Disease

1 February 2018 February is heart health month! It is well known that some breast cancer treatments including certain chemotherapy agents, trastuzumab (brand name herceptin – used for Her2/neu over-expressed cancers), and radiation therapy have the potential to cause damage to the heart. Echocardiograms and other monitoring tests are often performed during and after treatment for patients receiving certain chemotherapy…

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Breast Biopsy after Breast Cancer Treatment

31 January 2018 In women who undergo lumpectomy for breast cancer, the likelihood of another cancer developing in the treated breast can range from 0.2 – 1.0% per year, and this rate can be decreased with the addition of endocrine therapy such as tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor. The likelihood of developing a contralateral (opposite side) breast cancer is about…

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Updated Breast Cancer Staging System – AJCC 8th Edition

1 January 2018 The American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) has recently updated the staging system used for breast cancer. Cancer stage refers to the amount of cancer (size of the main tumor, spread to lymph nodes or other areas). The definitions of each stage vary depending on cancer type. Cancer stage often correlates with outcomes, and treatment recommendations usually…

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How Well Informed Do Patients Feel About Their Breast Cancer Surgery?

26 December 2017 A study recently published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons evaluated patient perceptions regarding knowledge about their breast cancer surgery. An online survey was distributed via email to patients who had participated in previous online surveys and had agreed to be contacted again. Enrollment quotas were set for geographic area, insurance status, and income level…

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Cognitive Dysfunction after Breast Cancer Treatment

19 December 2017 Up to 70% of patients treated for breast cancer experience some degree of cognitive dysfunction (more commonly known as “chemobrain”) during and immediately after treatment, and the symptoms may persist in up to 15-25% of patients. The impact on quality of life and ability to work varies; patients may experience forgetfulness, challenges with multitasking, and difficulty finding…

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Hormonal Contraceptives and Breast Cancer Risk

10 December 2017 A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has shown that birth control pills and other forms of hormone based contraception (such as some intrauterine devices (IUDs) are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. We’ve thought that the pills currently in use, which have much lower doses of estrogen and progesterone compared to…

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Acupuncture for Joint Pains

7 December 2017 An abstract presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium found that acupuncture can be very helpful in patients who develop joint pains related to aromatase inhibitor (AI) treatment. The study evaluated the use of acupuncture in post-menopausal women who had been treated for early stage breast cancer. 226 patients were enrolled. 110 underwent true acupuncture, 59…

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