XRAYS Quarterly Digest

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A compilation of the past quarter's reviewed articles.

FORCE's eXamining the Relevance of Articles for Young Survivors (XRAYS) program, is a reliable resource designed to help young breast cancer survivors and high-risk women navigate through breast cancer research related news and information

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STUDY: Take your time, follow your heart: strategies for communication about family planning

When a woman is newly diagnosed with a BRCA mutation, she faces many risk management decisions. Although many of these decisions impact family planning, little guidance is available on how to communicate this information. This study examines female previvors’ advice on effective strategies for discussing family planning decisions. (03/28/18)

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STUDY: FDA approves breast cancer test kits: how useful are they?

Interest in personalized genetic testing is growing. Genetic testing about health conditions typically requires a prescription from a health care provider. Until recently, the direct-to-consumer (DTC) testing market has focused on ancestry and discovery of unknown branches of family trees. A laboratory called 23andMe that provides direct-to-consumer genetic testing has been given FDA approval to report results for 3 mutations found in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. The FDA statement provides details about this approval and cautions consumers about the limitations of the 23andMe test. (03/19/18)

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ARTICLE: Insurance companies are more than curious about your genetic test results

A recent article on CBSNews.com addressed why insurance companies, particularly long-term insurance companies, might want to know which of their policy holders and potential policy holders have a gene that raises their risk for cancer. The article discusses genetic discrimination by insurance companies that provide long term care policies. Federal laws protect people with gene mutations from discrimination in health insurance. No such federal laws exist for life insurance, disability insurance or long term care. (3/13/18)

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STUDY: Is asparagus linked to breast cancer metastasis?

A new study published in the journal Nature shows that asparagine, a protein building block that takes its name from asparagus, promotes the spread of breast cancer in mice. The study by cancer experts from Britain, Canada and the U.S. investigated whether limiting the levels of asparagine in mice could reduce tumor metastasis. (3/2/18)

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STUDY: A new type of cancer “vaccine” eliminates tumors in mice

Immunotherapy is treatment that uses the immune system to fight cancer. Still in its infancy, it is a promising therapy that is changing how certain cancers are treated. A new study reports that tumors in lab mice were eliminated when they were injected with two immune system-enhancing agents. This new approach is called in situ (at the original site) vaccination because the injections are given directly into the tumors. It worked on several different types of mouse tumors, including lymphomas and breast tumors. This approach may be safer than conventional immunotherapy because it uses very low doses of the agents and it does not require tumors to have particular markers. (02/23/18)

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STUDY: Survival and mutation status in breast cancer patients under age 40

Studies have found conflicting rates of survival for BRCA mutation carriers who develop breast cancer, reporting better, worse and similar outcomes compared to patients with sporadic breast cancer. New results of the large Prospective Outcomes in Sporadic versus Hereditary (POSH) breast cancer study found no difference in survival rates between the two groups. The study also concluded that among young triple-negative breast cancer patients during the first 2 years after diagnosis, BRCA mutation carriers had an initial survival advantage compared to women without a BRCA mutation. (02/15/18)

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ARTICLE: Oncoplastic breast-conserving surgery with BioZorb® technology

The January 22, 2018 issue of The Columbian included an interview with Dr. Anne Peled in its online report, “Breast cancer surgeon diagnosed with breast cancer advocates oncoplastic surgery.”  Dr. Peled is a 37-year-old breast cancer surgeon and plastic surgeon from California who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent oncoplastic lumpectomy—a single surgery that removes the tumor and rearranges the remaining tissue to eliminate any resulting breast deformity. Peled’s procedure included a relatively new technology that she uses for her own patients: an implanted BioZorb® marker, a small device that improves precise targeting of radiation therapy and cosmetic outcome. (2/8/18) 

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STUDY: Should biannual MRIs replace annual mammograms in high-risk women?

The risk of breast cancer is exceptionally high in women who have a personal or family history of breast cancer or who carry a mutation in BRCA or certain other genes. More frequent screening is one strategy for early detection of breast cancer for these women. Study results presented at the 2017 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium suggest that MRI screening every 6 months may be more effective than the currently recommended annual breast MRI and annual mammogram in detecting early stage breast cancers-which are more treatable-in high-risk women. (2/1/18)

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STUDY: What is the risk of breast cancer recurrence after nipple-sparing mastectomy?

Nipple-sparing mastectomy (NSM) offers better cosmetic results for women who have immediate breast reconstruction (at the same time as their mastectomy). Over the past decade, NSM has gained popularity among surgeons and patients. Studies show that women who keep their own nipples have higher rates of satisfaction and psychological well-being after mastectomy and reconstruction compared to women who lose their nipples. However, little data exists on the long-term risk of recurrence following NSM. New research adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that risk of recurrence is low after NSM in carefully selected patients with breast cancer. (1/25/18)

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ARTICLE: The buzz around MonaLisa Touch

For many young breast cancer survivors and high-risk women, the side effects from early menopause after treatment and surgery can negatively impact their personal lives. This XRAYS looks at one of the many recent media articles on a laser procedure called MonaLisa Touch. The article, "Is Laser Treatment for Vaginal Atrophy Safe?"  was published online in 2017 by FOX News and written by Dr. Manny Alvarez. XRAYS will discuss what this laser procedure actually is and how it may impact a young breast cancer patient’s life after treatment. (1/19/18)

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STUDY: No new high-risk breast cancer genes here

While some of the inherited causes of breast cancer are known (for example, inherited mutations in genes like BRCA, ATM and PALB2), others remain unidentified. Two recent reports identified 72 DNA changes (also known as “variants” or “SNPs”) that are associated with increased breast cancer risk.  However, unlike mutations in a gene that dramatically increase risk, the majority of these new variants are not located within the portion of DNA that codes for proteins, and they confer only a small increase in risk. Further research is needed on these new variants before they can be used by doctors to assess and manage cancer risk in patients. (1/12/18)

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ARTICLE: Coping with the financial burden of breast cancer

U.S. News & World Report recently talked to three breast cancer survivors, including two young women, about how they handled out-of-pocket costs and other medical expenses after their cancer diagnosis. (Posted 1/4/18)

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