FORCE’s eXamining the Relevance of Articles for Young Survivors (XRAYS) program is a reliable resource for breast cancer research-related news and information. XRAYS reviews new breast cancer research, provides plain-language summaries, and rates how the media covered the topic. XRAYS is funded by the CDC.
The POLO clinical trial looks at whether the PARP inhibitor olaparib improves outcomes for those with metastatic pancreatic cancer after platinum-based chemotherapy. (7/3/19)
The KATHERINE trial looked at the benefit of the new drug, Kadcyla, for treating early-stage breast cancer after surgery and chemotherapy. The results of this study led to FDA approval in May 2019. (6/17/19)
The FDA approved the use of the immunotherapy drug Tecentriq (atezolizumab) in combination with the chemotherapy agent Abraxane (nab-paclitaxel) for certain patients with advanced triple-negative breast cancer.
We report results of an early-stage clinical trial of a new class of drugs for metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). IMMU-132 is an antibody-drug conjugate, meaning that it combines two different molecules: an antibody that targets certain proteins or tumor markers and delivers SN-38, a chemotherapy drug that can kill tumor cells. This study looks at whether IMMU-132 is safe and effective for treating metastatic TNBC. (4/16/19)
The American Society of Breast Surgeons published statement on genetic testing for hereditary breast cancer on February 10, 2019. It includes recommendations about who should be tested. Among these is the recommendation that all breast cancer patients get genetic testing, as well as women who do not have breast cancer but fit the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines. (3/25/19)
The Jerusalem Post published an article titled, “A cure for cancer? Israeli scientists may have found one.” The story profiled a small Israeli company called Accelerated Evolution Biotechnologies that has been working on developing new cancer treatments since 2000. The article relied almost entirely on an interview with the company’s chairperson of the board who made a series of unsubstantiated claims that included that, in a year’s time, the company will offer a complete cure for cancer. (2/12/19)
Several recent studies on the cost of cancer care show the negative effects on cancer patients. In this XRAYS we review a recent article by Kaiser Health News and associated studies about the financial impact of breast cancer treatment and cost of precision medicine. (2/8/19)
The PALOMA-3 clinical trial showed that a new CDK4/6 inhibitor in combination therapy improved progression-free survival of women treated for hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative advanced or metastatic breast cancer in women with prior disease progression after endocrine therapy. This XRAYS reviews a newly published study in the New England Journal of Medicine that looks at overall survival in the original PALOMA-3 study. (1/23/19)
Fertility issues and family planning decisions are prominent concerns for young women with breast cancer. This XRAYS looks at Dr. Ann Partridge’s presentation at the 2018 San Antonio Breast Cancer symposium. Her talk, “Breast cancer in young women: Understanding differences to improve outcomes," focused on initial findings from the Young Women's Breast Cancer Study. Dr. Partridge’s research continues in the currently enrolling POSITIVE trial which tests whether women can safely interrupt adjuvant endocrine therapy in order to get pregnant. (1/7/19)
In the Saturday essay of The Washington Post, Dr. Pamela Munster recounts her family's history with cancer associated with a mutation in the BRCA2 gene. She details her father's extraordinary journey with pancreatic cancer, one of the most aggressive and deadly cancers. (11/27/18)
This article by journalists Caroline Chen and Riley Wong looks at racial disparities between participation in clinical trials and the population of people with cancer. (11/6/18)
A new study shows that chemotherapy use for
early-stage, node-positive and node-negative breast cancers declined from 2013 to 2015. It also reports that oncologists’ recommendations are influenced to differing degrees by patient preferences and tumor test results, despite unchanging health care guidelines. (8/21/18)
Metastatic breast cancer is often difficult to treat. In a new approach, called adoptive cell therapy (ACT), a patient’s own T-cells (a type of cancer-fighting immune cells) are collected, multiplied in a lab, and then returned to the patient. The goal is to enhance the patient’s immune system with many more T-cells that recognize and attack metastasized tumor cells. This study reports on a single patient whose
metastatic breast cancer is still in remission (no evidence of disease) after more than 22 months following ACT. (8/16/18)
A research study named the “Trial Assigning Individualized Options for Treatment” (TAILORx) asked whether chemotherapy is beneficial for women who have mid-range Oncotype DX tumor recurrence scores. This trial — the largest breast cancer treatment trial ever conducted— showed that endocrine therapy alone was as effective as endocrine therapy plus chemotherapy in women with certain types of early-stage breast cancer. The results of this trial are expected to be immediately practice changing (7/20/18)
Current breast cancer treatments can negatively affect cardiovascular health. Recently, the American Heart Association released its first scientific statement on cardiovascular disease and breast cancer. This statement includes a comprehensive overview of the prevalence of both diseases, shared risk factors, cardiotoxic effects of therapy and the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease in breast cancer patients. (5/2/18)
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)
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)
Hormonal therapy significantly reduces the risk of recurrence for women with early-stage estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. Standard hormonal therapy is given for 5 years; extending that therapy for a longer period offers additional protection but has added side effects. A new study looked at women who stopped hormonal therapy after 5 years and identified factors that may guide the decision to extend treatment. (12/21/17)
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) recently updated its guidelines for MammaPrint, a genomic tumor test that guides treatment decisions for patients with early-stage invasive breast cancer. The update was based on results from the MINDACT study (11/16/17).
Some breast cancer patients are given
neoadjuvant (before surgery) chemotherapy. However, some recent studies have raised concerns that neoadjuvant treatment might actually trigger cancer spread in certain situations. In the current study, researchers used mouse models and human breast cancers to explore this possibility. (10/10/17)
Previous studies and news headlines have reported that it is possible for breast cancers to regress or disappear on their own. Is this true? The authors of the current research study show that of 479 untreated breast cancers detected by screening mammography, none regressed or spontaneously disappeared on their own. (9/7/17)
THIS INFORMATION HAS BEEN UPDATED on 04/06/19: Based on published research studies, the FDA approved atezolizumab (Tecentriq) used in combination with the chemotherapy drug nab–paclitaxel (Abraxane) for women with locally advanced or metastatic triple-negative breast cancer that cannot be treated surgically and whose tumors are positive for a protein called PD-L1. The FDA also approved a companion diagnostic test called the VENTANA PD-L1 Assay, to identify patients with triple-negative breast cancer who are candidates for this treatment.
Patients diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) do not have many treatment options. Immunotherapy, a new type of cancer treatment, pushes the body’s natural defense or immune system to fight cancer. A new
immunotherapy drug, atezolizumab (Tecentriq) may improve survival for patients with metastatic TNBC. (07/11/17)
Maggie Fox (NBC News) writes about a new FDA report that warns of 14 "fraudulent” cancer products claiming to either cure or treat cancer (1). The companies that sell these products claim that many of them also prevent cancer, but are they safe or effective? (6/26/17)
Breast cancer treatment costs are high. Lumpectomy followed by radiation therapy is a common treatment for early-stage breast cancer; however, patients may receive different radiation regimens, which carry different costs. Authors of this research study wanted to estimate the potential health care cost savings if early-stage breast cancer patients received the least expensive radiation regimen for which they were safely eligible. (6/20/17)
PARP inhibitors are a new type of cancer treatment developed for patients who have BRCA mutations. The FDA has approved three PARP inhibitors for treatment of ovarian cancer. These medications are also being studied for treating breast cancer in people with BRCA mutations. Researchers believe that these medications may also work well for breast cancer patients whose tumors have features similar to BRCA tumors; this current study describes a new screening tool that may help health care providers find those tumors. Related clinical trials involving PARP inhibitors are ongoing. (6/2/17)
Hair loss is one of the most recognized and distressing side effects of some chemotherapies. Two new studies looked at the use of scalp cooling therapy to help reduce hair loss after chemotherapy for early-stage breast cancer. (5/15/17)
While clinical trials track treatment side effects, fewer studies look at the burden of side effects on women undergoing breast cancer treatment or compare the side effects of different treatments. This study looks at the severity of side effects experienced by women treated for early-stage breast cancer and the post-treatment burden they experience. (4/11/17)
Finding new treatments that target triple-negative breast cancer is an area of great interest. An early step in developing these treatments is learning more about the biology of tumor in the laboratory. This study looked at how capsaicin, the spicy component of chili peppers, might work with a protein found in many cancers, including triple-negative breast cancer, to stop cancer cell growth. This is the first step in a long process towards developing new treatments for triple-negative breast cancer. (2/14/17)
Many people report memory or concentration problems, commonly known as “chemobrain,” during and after cancer treatment. New research shows that for some breast cancer patients these issues continue 6 months after treatment. Documentation of this well-known effect is a crucial first step in developing ways to limit and treat it. (02/02/17)
Previous research found an association between depression and survival in breast cancer patients, but the reasons for this association are unclear. Researchers in this study found that women who had been previously prescribed antidepressants were less likely to receive breast cancer treatment that followed national guidelines than those who had not. Although the difference was small, it underscores the need for patients to discuss any history of depression with their health care providers. (1/24/17)
Today, more women know they can have breast reconstruction after removing their breasts for cancer treatment or risk reduction. But what about choosing not to undergo reconstruction? Roni Caryn Rabin writes about the experiences of women who decide against reconstruction in her New York Times piece “‘Going Flat’ After Breast Cancer.” (12/14/16)
A recent IFLScience headline proclaimed "Remarkable Breast Cancer Trial Destroys Tumors in Just 11 Days." This sounds amazing but it leaves out key facts. First, the finding applies only to HER2-positive breast cancer, not all breast cancers. More importantly, the results are from a conference presentation and have not yet appeared in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. What does that mean for breast cancer patients? (12/6/16)
Healthcare providers cannot give their breast cancer patients information on chemotherapy treatment costs because not enough is known about the exact costs. New research finds that costs vary not only between different cancer treatments, but also between similar treatments, such as all treatments that target HER2+ breast cancer. (11/22/16)
Barbara Jacoby's Huffington Post piece, "How do breast cancer and metastatic breast cancer differ?" emphasizes the need for more treatment options for patients with advanced breast cancer.
Breast-conserving therapy (which includes lumpectomy and radiation treatment) increases survival rates for patients who have DCIS. But what amount of extra tissue outside the tumor should be removed to minimize breast cancer recurrence? (10/4/16)
Jessica Wapner's Scientific American article explores the difficulties of making the vast amount of information acquired from tumor gene tests useful to patients and physicians. (9/20/16).
Because women may experience negative side effects after chemotherapy, researchers wanted a way to determine which breast cancer patients can avoid chemotherapy without affecting their survival. This study suggests that a test that looks at 70 genes in breast tumors may be able to identify breast cancer patients who can do without chemotherapy for their disease. (9/13/16)
Newly diagnosed breast cancer patients often use online communication to find more information about their diagnoses and treatment options. But does online communication benefit these patients' decision-making process? (8/30/16)
Hormonal therapy reduces the risk of recurrence for women with early-stage breast cancer that is ER-and/or PR-positive. Standard therapy lasts 5 years. A new study looks at whether extending one type of hormonal therapy, known as aromatase inhibitor therapy, to 10 years lowers recurrence rates even more for these women. (7/26/16)
ER+ and HER2+ breast cancers are often treated with targeted therapy, but no such treatment is available for triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). Early laboratory research suggests that vitamin D and androgen receptors might be potential targets for new treatment for
TNBC. However, many more studies are needed before these targets can be tested against human breast cancer (7/5/16).
Cancer-related financial burden can keep survivors from getting the care that they need, yet how this burden affects mental and physical help is still unknown. A recent study found that almost one-third of cancer survivors report having financial burden; those most likely to be affected were under age 65, female, members of racial or ethnic minority groups, and people who lack access to adequate insurance. (5/17/16)
National guidelines recommend genetic testing for BRCA mutations in young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. However, little is known about how women decide to get testing, or how they use genetic information to decide on treatment options. This study found that genetic testing is increasing among young breast cancer survivors, and it explores some of the factors that play into patients’ decision making about genetic testing. (3/22/16)
The population of breast cancer survivors in the United States is increasing. One rare but dangerous long-term effect of breast cancer treatment is an increased risk of leukemia, a type of bone marrow cancer. A recent study uncovered a potential genetic basis for this condition. (01/26/2015)
Previous research has hinted that women who have breast-conserving surgeries have the same, if not better, overall survival as women who have mastectomies. Researchers in this study wanted to see if that was true; they found that women who chose breast-conserving surgeries did have a higher overall survival. However, this study, presented at the 2015 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, had limitations that make it difficult to interpret the results or to extend them to all women with breast cancer. (01/19/2016)
Very little work has studied how a woman's cancer diagnosis and treatment during pregnancy affects her child. This study of women who were diagnosed with cancer while pregnant looks at their children at ages 18 months and 3 years. The study found no difference in general, cognitive, and cardiac development when compared to children born to healthy mothers. (12/08/2015)
Metastasis, the spread of cancer cells from a primary tumor to another site in the body, is a complex process. Researchers do not understand why a few cells metastasize while other cells do not. A study performed in mouse models suggests that high doses of some antioxidants may make it easier for cancer cells to metastasize. (12/01/2015)
A website called thetruthaboutcancer.com, created a 9-part docu-series titled “The Truth About Cancer: A Global Quest” (TACGQ). The video states that Angelina Jolie’s decision to remove her breasts was one made out of fear; one commentator states that her decision was “barbaric." This video contains a lot of dangerous misinformation about BRCA mutations and inherited cancer. FORCE XRAYS provides the following point-by-point analysis on "The Truth About Cancer." (11/10/2015)
A phase II clinical trial has looked at whether metastatic breast cancer patients improve after receiving a combination of chemotherapy and an experimental cancer vaccine. While the results of the trial show a trend towards longer time without their cancer progressing, a larger clinical trial needs to be done to confirm this finding.
Not all breast cancer is the same. Nor do all cancers react similarly to chemotherapy, but a specific test helps doctors and patients decide if an early cancer needs to be treated with chemotherapy. This week we review a recent paper that showed the Oncotype DX test reliably identifies women with ER+ early-stage breast cancer who can be treated with hormone therapy alone. (10/20/15)
Recent headlines announced a blood test that can potentially predict which breast cancer survivors are at risk of recurrence. This particular blood test, one of many being developed, is sometimes called a “liquid biopsy.” This early research focuses on a technique that is promising, but not yet available to breast cancer survivors. (10/12/15)
Recent headlines describe the rise in prophylactic double mastectomy for men with breast cancer. We looked at the research to see how many men are choosing this option and what it means for men with breast cancer. (10/6/15)
Diagnoses of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), sometimes called stage 0 breast cancer, have increased in recent decades. Many people with DCIS wonder if they need aggressive treatment. A recent study looking at the survival of over 100,000 women found that breast cancer mortality after DCIS is low (3%), and identified groups of women who are at higher risk after DCIS. (9/8/15)