Tag Archive for BreastCancer

Kelley Tuthill’s Tips for Choosing a Wig

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By Kelley Tuthill

Hair loss can be a jarring side effect of chemotherapy. When I was treated for breast cancer, I was nervous about my appearance and decided to wear a wig. At first it was a strange experience, but wearing a wig helped me face the day — and a TV audience. Here are five tips I learned for selecting a wig and wearing it with confidence. Read more

Genetic Testing, Cancer Risk, and Angelina Jolie’s Choice

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Actress Angelina Jolie is no stranger to the headlines, but she stunned the world with her Op-Ed in The New York Times, in which she shared her very private decision to have a preventive double mastectomy after testing positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation. “I hope that other women can benefit from my experience,” wrote Jolie. “Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness.” But for Jolie, and many others, getting genetic testing and taking action may offer control and comfort.

How do you know if genetic testing is right for you? Judy Garber, MD, MPH, is director of the Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and one of the leaders of the Institute’s Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers. She talks about the BRCA test, family history and cancer risk, and preventive options for breast and ovarian cancer.

 

 

The Dana-Farber Cancer Genetics and Prevention Program offers advanced genetic tests to determine risk, as well as counseling and education, once the results are determined.

If you have a question about genetic factors that increase cancer risk, you can ask the Dana-Farber cancer genetics team.

 

 

Mom, cancer survivor has ‘a lot to celebrate’ this Mother’s Day

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Editor’s Note: This weekend we celebrate Mother’s Day with two inspiring stories of Moms whose cancer diagnoses came while they were pregnant. Today, Michelle Maloney shares her story.

By Naomi Funkhouser

On a cold October evening, Michelle Maloney braced herself against the night chill. As she hugged herself in bed, she felt a lump in her right breast. The next morning, Maloney scheduled an appointment with her primary care physician, who asked if she could be pregnant.

“Anything is possible,” said Maloney. Read more

Dr. Jay Harris discusses the link between radiation therapy for breast cancer and heart disease

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By Robert Levy

In a recent study, Oxford University researchers reported that although radiation therapy is a critical tool for the treatment of women with breast cancer, it can also raise their risk of a heart attack or heart disease later in life. The study was based on a review of medical records of 2,168 women in Sweden and Denmark who received radiation therapy for breast cancer between 1958 and 2001, and who were under age 70 at the time.

News coverage of the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, has drawn new attention to the heart risks associated with radiation therapy even as it underscores such therapy’s role in improving survival rates for breast cancer patients.

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What Happens If You’re Allergic to Your Chemo Drugs?

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By Tara Shuman

Before Oct. 31, 2012, I would have probably guessed that desensitization was a process invented by mental health professionals to make really sensitive people less sensitive. I might have inquired about the cost to put my four-year-old son through “desensitization” so that he wouldn’t throw such a fit when he lost a game of knee hockey in our basement.

Now I know that desensitization is a life-saving process necessary to treat cancer patients like me.

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Do BRCA Mutations Increase a Woman’s Lifetime Cancer Risk?

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By Judy Garber, MD, MPH

We know that women who inherit harmful mutations in the genes BRCA1 or BRCA2 have a sharply increased risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer at an early age (prior to menopause). In fact, women with inherited BRCA1 or 2 mutations are about five times more likely to develop breast cancer – and at least 10 times more likely to develop ovarian cancer – than women without such mutations, according to the National Cancer Institute. Read more

Can Men Get Breast Cancer?

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 Pink may be the color for breast cancer advocacy, but that doesn’t mean men can’t be diagnosed with the disease. Each year, 2,000 men in the U.S. receive a breast cancer diagnosis. Current treatments are highly effective in men whose cancer is treated early. However, because men aren’t familiar with breast cancer symptoms, diagnosis is often delayed. Read more

Managing Cancer Risk: Miss America Contestant’s Decision Puts Genetics and Cancer Center Stage

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Win or lose, Miss America contestant Allyn Rose made news with her decision to undergo a double mastectomy. According to the Associated Press, Rose, who lost her mother to breast cancer, inherited a rare genetic mutation which might put her at greater risk for developing cancer.

Her decision to have the preventive surgery has sparked questions about genetics, cancer risk and strategies for preventing cancer.

If you have a question about genetic factors that increase cancer risk, you can ask the Dana-Farber cancer genetics team.

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Can Breast Cancer Patients Avoid Multiple Surgeries?

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When Jane Davis was diagnosed with breast cancer last July, she began learning as much as she could about her disease. Davis quickly discovered one of the most startling statistics about breast cancer: Up to 40 percent of women who have a lumpectomy require a second surgery. That’s because surgeons often cannot microscopically remove the entire tumor.

But Mehra Golshan, MD, FACS, director of Breast Surgical Services at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, is trying to change that with a phase I breast surgery pilot study. It’s the first of its kind in the world. Read more

Does Breast Density Affect Mammogram Results?

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by Laura Dominici, MD

Mammograms are the most effective tool for screening women for breast cancer. But mammography isn’t perfect: it may be slightly less effective for women with dense breasts.

About half of all women have fairly dense breasts, which contain relatively large amounts of fibrous and glandular tissue and less fat. (Fibrous tissue supports and gives shape to the breast; glandular tissue produces and transports milk.) Breast density, which tends to be high in young women, often declines with age.

Surgical Oncologist Laura Dominici, MD

On a mammogram, dense breast tissue appears as light gray or white, the same shades that can indicate a cancer. On the one hand, this may make tumors harder to detect. On the other, it can result in more false-positives, in which an area that initially appears to show a tumor proves – after further testing – to be non-cancerous.

The letter sent to a woman describing the results of her mammogram doesn’t mention breast density. However, breast density is included in the mammogram report sent to her physician. When an area of concern turns up on a physical exam of a woman with dense breasts, it should be a cue for her physician to explain how density affects mammogram results and how to understand those results. If a woman is concerned that the density of her breasts may reduce the reliability of her mammogram, she should address the issue with her physician.

Despite the potential limitations of mammography for dense breasts, it remains the best, most useful screening technology that we currently have.

 

Laura Dominici, MD, is a surgical oncologist in the Breast Oncology Center at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, and an instructor in surgery at Harvard Medical School.