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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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 or ovarian 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…

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Updates from ASBrS 2017

8 May 2017 As a past-president of the American Society of Breast Surgeons I am probably more than a little biased. However, as always, the annual meeting held April 26-30th in Las Vegas was terrific. Topics including the full spectrum of breast disease, including benign and high risk lesions, genetic testing, breast cancer diagnosis and treatment including medical and radiation…

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Active Surveillance for DCIS

20 March 2017 Over 50,000 women in the US are diagnosed every year with ductal carcinoma in-situ (DCIS), also known as Stage 0 breast cancer. DCIS is most often diagnosed on screening mammography and usually presents as a cluster of calcium deposits rather than a lump. In cases of DCIS, malignant appearing cells grow within the milk duct, but do not invade…

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Misunderstanding Prognosis and Test Results

17 January 2017 A study recently published in the Journal of Oncology Practice noted that patients with incurable breast cancer often have poor awareness of their prognosis after oncologist discussion of scan results. The researchers analyzed audio recordings of conversations between patients and oncologists. They found that oncologists tended to spend more time discussing treatment recommendations rather than scan results…

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Extended Endocrine Therapy – Not So Fast?

26 December 2016 Approximately 75% of breast cancers express the estrogen receptor – we term these breast cancers ER positive (ER+) or hormone-sensitive. Endocrine therapy refers to using medications to exploit this cancer cell property. Tamoxifen is used in premenopausal women and it blocks the estrogen receptor. In post-menopausal women, aromatase inhibitors (AI) are used which prevent estrogen from being produced…

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Accelerated Aging Due to Cancer Treatment

28 November 2016 Cancer treatment takes a physical and mental toll. As patients progress from active treatment into the survivorship phase, many become frustrated that they cannot “bounce back” as quickly as they would like. Getting back to “normal” may not be realistic – many of us are doing way too much even on a good day, and ignore the…

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A Crucial Catch to Address Breast Cancer Disparities

25 October 2016 For the past several years, the NFL has gone pink in October. At first glance, it appears that the “Crucial Catch” campaign is simply another pinkwashing project. The campaign message: screening saves lives. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Proceeds from the auction of pink apparel, commemorative coins and other items are donated to the American Cancer Society’s CHANGE program –…

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Metastatic Breast Cancer

13 October 2016 The 13th of October is designated for metastatic breast cancer awareness. Metastatic, or Stage IV breast cancer, is when the cancer has spread outside of the breast or underarm lymph nodes. The most common sites of spread are the bones, liver, lung and brain.  Later stage of disease at the time of diagnosis is a risk factor, as…

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