Improvement in Breast Cancer Death Rates – But Much Work Remains

11 February 2019 Half a million breast cancer deaths averted! That’s certainly a headline that will get attention. A study just published in Cancer concluded that approximately 500 million deaths from breast cancer among women in the United States (US) have been averted over the past 30 years due to screening mammography and improved therapy. The most important point to…

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How Do Patients Feel About the Phrase “Cancer Survivor”

14 January 2019 The article discussed below is behind a paywall. If anyone would like to receive a full copy, please email me: info at drattai dot com and I will be happy to share. The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (founded by a physician who was treated for cancer), the National Cancer Institute, and the American Cancer Society consider…

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Decline in Cancer Deaths

9 January 2019 The American Cancer Society has just published their updated “Cancer Facts and Figures”, documenting cancer incidence and mortality rates. When combined by disease site, cancer death rates have decreased by 27% from 1991-2016, resulting in approximately 2.6 million cancer deaths avoided. From 2007 – 2016, cancer death rates have declined approximately 1.8% per year for men, and…

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Recent Pregnancy and Breast Cancer Risk

19 December 2018 A study recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine noted that breast cancer risk increases after childbirth, peaking at about 5 years after delivery. The increased risk was seen to persist for over 20 years. The Annals study pooled the results from 15 prospective series. They found that in women with prior pregnancy, who had their…

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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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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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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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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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Comparison of Treatments for Cancer-Related Fatigue

1 August 2017 A meta-analysis recently published in JAMA Oncology evaluated studies that reported on therapies for cancer-related fatigue (CRF). CRF is very common, can persist for years after treatment, and is exacerbated by depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance and pain – which can also be long-term effects of cancer therapy. The authors focused on papers that reported the effects of pharmaceutical…

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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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