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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Alcohol and Cancer

10 November 2017 The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has just released a statement on alcohol and cancer. They note that the importance of alcohol consumption as a contributor to cancer development is under appreciated, and that in the US, approximately 3.5% of all cancer deaths are related to alcohol intake. While the association between alcohol intake (especially heavy…

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Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence after Endocrine Therapy

9 November 2017 In patients with a common form of breast cancer, known as estrogen receptor (ER) “positive”, endocrine therapy is often recommended after other treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are complete. Tamoxifen, most commonly used in pre-menopausal women, blocks the estrogen receptor on the breast cell, so estrogen cannot impact cell growth. In post-menopausal women, aromatase inhibitors…

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Cancer Risk Factors and Financial Impact of Cancer Treatment

24 October 2017 A national survey performed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology showed that many Americans are unaware of key cancer risk factors, including obesity, alcohol, lack of exercise, tobacco use and sun exposure. While doing “everything right” certainly is no guarantee of a healthy life (for example, many patients who develop lung cancer do not smoke) being…

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TMIST Study to Evaluate 3D Mammograms

27 September 2017 3D mammography, also known as tomosynthesis, is becoming more widely available. The thin “slices” (images) make it easier to spot cancers in patients with dense breast tissue. In addition, the use of 3D mammography can decrease the rate of “callbacks” – additional images that are often recommended after a screening mammogram due to uncertainty about the findings.…

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Questions about Gadolinium Safety – MRI Contrast Dye

18 September 2017 Breast MRIs are used in some newly diagnosed breast cancer patients, especially those with dense breast tissue. In addition, they are used as a supplement to mammography in women who are found to be at high risk. In order to distinguish between normal and cancerous tissue, an intravenous contrast dye is used. For MRI studies, the contrast…

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After 10 years, Less is Still More

12 September 2017 A common misconception among patients is that more aggressive surgery for breast cancer leads to better outcomes. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The standard operation for breast cancer for years (up until the 1960-70s) was the Halsted radical mastectomy, during which the breast, pectoralis muscle of the chest, and underarm lymph nodes were…

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Genetic Testing in Women with a History of Breast or Ovarian Cancer

18 August 2017 Approximately 15%  of women diagnosed with breast cancer will be found to carry a mutation in one or more genes that predisposes to the cancer. The most familiar are the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes. These are tumor suppressor genes, if mutated, they do not function properly and can result in a higher likelihood of cancer…

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