Tag Archive for BreastCancer

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.

Good News for Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients

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By Erica L. Mayer, MD, MPH

There has been remarkable recent progress in identifying effective treatments for patients with metastatic breast cancer – that is, cancer that has spread beyond the breast and underarm lymph nodes to other parts of the body. Read more

Being Grateful in the Face of Cancer

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By Lola Baltzell

I have been a metastatic breast cancer patient at Dana-Farber for over four years now. “Metastatic” means the cancer has spread beyond the breast. I have an amazing team of providers, especially my oncologist Ann Partridge and nurse practitioner Anne Kelly. Read more

When a Celebrity Has Breast Cancer

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by Erica Mayer, MD, MPH 

In 1974, when First Lady Betty Ford announced that she had undergone a mastectomy for breast cancer, it was a turning point in people’s willingness to talk about the disease. Prior to that, discussing cancer of any type, even with one’s family or friends, was often taboo. The First Lady’s openness about her cancer helped create a space in which women felt more comfortable talking about their experience – and about being screened for the disease.

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Breast Cancer, Aromatase Inhibitors, and Bone Density

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Aromatase inhibitors (AIs), such as Arimidex, Aromasin, and Femara, have proven to be more effective than previous hormonal treatments for treating both early and advanced breast cancer in post-menopausal women whose tumors are dependent on estrogen. Compared with tamoxifen, these drugs are less likely to cause blood clots or raise the risk of endometrial cancer. As a result, AIs are used both in patients with early breast cancer and in those with metastatic disease. Read more

Fun with Pink

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It was glitter and glue when patients, visitors, and Dana-Farber staff gathered on Oct. 4 to create art on an unusual canvas – bras. Hosted by Friends’ Place and Dana-Farber’s Creative Arts Program, the “Decorate a Brassiere” art therapy event allowed attendees to creatively honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

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How to Build a Support Network

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By Lola Baltzell

People often ask me: How do you manage to live with metastatic breast cancer? One of the most important strategies for me has been building a support network.

My diagnosis of breast cancer that had already spread to my bones came out of the blue. I had a normal mammogram 13 months earlier, and no known risk factors. So when I heard the news in August 2008, my first impulse was to reach out for support. Read more

Desensitization Helps Patients Overcome Allergy to Chemotherapy

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Just as people may wheeze and itch in the presence of cats or pollen, a minority of cancer patients become allergic to the very drugs that are fighting their disease. Read more

Making a party out of cancer

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Every Sunday, the Cutter family holds a Chemofeast. The door to their home is open to any and all who wish to attend. It’s a day full of food, beverages, and a lot of laughter, and 15-year-old Blake Cutter gets to choose the menu. Then on Monday, his mother, Lois, drives him to chemotherapy at Dana-Farber. Read more