XRAY — Behind the Cancer Headlines

FORCE's eXaming the Relevance of Articles for You (XRAY) program looks behind the headlines of cancer news to help you understand what the research means for you. XRAY is a reliable source of hereditary cancer research-related news and information.

SEARCH RESULTS: 163 results

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Relevance: Medium-High

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Strength of Science: Medium-High

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Research Timeline: Human Research

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Study: A new blood test may help predict early-stage breast cancer patients at highest risk for recurrence

Most relevant for: People with early-stage breast cancer

Which patients are at risk for a relapse of early-stage breast cancer? Tests to predict recurrence would help find people who need more monitoring after treatment and provide a chance to find and treat them earlier. This study looked at whether a blood test for tumor DNA (called circulating tumor DNA or ctDNA) is useful for finding people with recurrence earlier than current clinical practice. (11/4/19)

Relevance: High

Relevance

Strength of Science: High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Human Research

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Study: Niraparib increases progression-free survival in patients with newly diagnosed ovarian cancer

Most relevant for: Women newly-diagnosed with ovarian cancer

This study looked at the effectiveness and safety of niraparib (Zejula), a PARP inhibitor, as maintenance therapy in newly diagnosed ovarian cancer patients who had a response to chemotherapy. (11/5/19)

Relevance: Medium-Low

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Research Timeline: Human Research

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Personal Story: A “flu shot” against breast cancer? Not so fast

Most relevant for: Women diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS)

There have been multiple reports in the media of a Florida woman who had a "shot" to treat her DCIS with a promising outcome. This XRAY reviews the underlying story about this early breast cancer vaccine trial. (10/25/19)

Relevance: High

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Quality of Writing: High

Quality of Writing

Personal Story: Running marathons with metastatic breast cancer? Yes!

Most relevant for: Women with metastatic breast cancer

Runner’s World Magazine featured Sarah Smith, a metastatic breast cancer patient who runs marathons and ultra-marathons. By telling her story, Sarah wants to encourage people to stay active, despite the challenges that life may bring. (10/13/19)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Strength of Science: Medium-High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Human Research

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Study: Research on the PARP inhibitor talazoparib (Talzenna) for early-stage breast cancer is promising

Most relevant for: People with early stage breast cancer who have an inherited BRCA mutation

The PARP inhibitor talazoparib (Talzenna) has been useful for treatment of advanced or metastatic breast cancer for patients with BRCA mutations. A preliminary study showed that the majority of patients who took talazoparib alone before surgery for early-stage breast cancer had effective treatment and manageable side effects. Expanded clinical trials are in progress to verify this result. (10/4/19)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Strength of Science: Medium

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: Inherited mutations In metastatic breast cancer patients

Most relevant for: People with metastatic breast cancer

Recent research shows that a significant portion of patients with metastatic breast cancer have harmful mutations in a gene associated with hereditary breast cancer and increased breast cancer risk. (9/26/19)

Relevance: Medium

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Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Guideline: FDA issues warning on CDK inhibitors

Most relevant for: People currently taking a CDK inhibitor

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a safety alert for CDK inhibitors, including Ibrance (palbociclib), Kisqali (ribociclib), and Verzenio (abemaciclib). (9/24/19)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Strength of Science: Medium-High

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Study: Does eating meat affect breast cancer risk?

Most relevant for: Women with a family history of breast cancer

Eating meat has been suggested to increase breast cancer risk. The recent Sister Study looked at meat type, cooking methods and breast cancer risk in a study of 42,012 women.  (9/10/19)

Relevance: High

Relevance

Strength of Science: High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: Is it safe for BRCA mutation carriers to become pregnant following breast cancer?

Most relevant for: Women with a BRCA mutation who are considering pregnancy after breast cancer

New research shows that pregnancy after breast cancer is safe for women with BRCA mutations and their babies. (9/4/19)

Relevance: High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: Supportive care can improve quality of life for people with metastatic breast cancer

Most relevant for: People diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer

Metastatic breast cancer patients have unique needs for treatment and care. Connecting patients to appropriate support services and palliative care is an area of need in health care. A recent study reported improvement in metastatic breast cancer patient quality of life and wellness with an intervention program called the Supportive, Education and Advocacy (MBC-SEA) program. (8/21/19)

Relevance: High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

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Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: MRI or mammograms for detecting breast cancer in families with unknown genetic mutations?

Most relevant for: People with a personal or family history of cancer where no mutation has been found

MRI and mammograms are used together to detect breast cancer in high-risk women who test positive for a BRCA or other gene mutation that increases the risk for breast cancer. For women with a family history of breast cancer but no known genetic mutation, increased screening is recommended. But what method is best? A recent clinical trial in the Netherlands compared MRI and mammography for this population. (8/15/19)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

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Study: Diagnosis and treatment delays in young women with breast cancer

Most relevant for: Young women who find a breast lump and young women newly-diagnosed with breast cancer

Young women are more likely to have delays in a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.  Factors that affect these delays include pregnancy, breastfeeding, financial concerns and having a family history of breast or ovarian cancer. (8/5/19)

Relevance: High

Relevance

Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Guideline: FDA asks Allergan to recall certain textured breast implants

Most relevant for: Women with, or considering breast reconstruction with implants

On July 25, 2019, the Food and Drug Administration requested that breast implant manufacturer Allergan recall its BIOCELL textured implants and expanders due to an association with a rare type of lymphoma called Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma or BIA-ALCL. The FDA does not recommend removing implants for people who do not have disease symptoms. This XRAYS review updates information about this FDA recall. (7/29/19)

Relevance: High

Relevance

Strength of Science: High

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Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: CDK inhibitors may increase survival for ER-positive metastatic breast cancer patients

Most relevant for: People with metastatic, hormone-positive, Her2-negative breast cancer

The phase III MONALEESA-7 study is a clinical trial looking at the effect of a type of treatment known as a CDK4/6 inhibitor in pre- or perimenopausal women with hormone receptor–positive advanced breast cancer. (7/22/19) 

 

 

Relevance: High

Relevance

Strength of Science: High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Human Research

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Study: Results from the POLO trial: Olaparib may delay cancer progression in metastatic pancreatic cancer patients with BRCA mutations.

Most relevant for: People diagnosed with pancreatic cancer who have a BRCA mutation

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)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: LGBTQ patients recommend improvements for their cancer care

Most relevant for: LGBTQ cancer patients and their healthcare providers.

Little is known about the cancer care experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) patients. This study looks at recommendations from the LGBTQ community for improving their cancer care. (6/20/19)

Relevance: High

Relevance

Strength of Science: High

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Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: New targeted therapy approved for early-stage HER2-positive breast cancer

Most relevant for: People with early-stage, Her2-positive breast cancer (stages 1-3)

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)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: High

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Study: A low-fat diet may decrease postmenopausal breast cancer deaths

Most relevant for: Post-menopausal women with no breast cancer diagnosis

Research reported at the 2019 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology establishes a link between dietary fat intake and its impact on postmenopausal women’s risk of dying from breast cancer. (6/13/19)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Quality of Writing: Medium-High

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Personal Story: A young woman's story of genetic testing and risk-reducing mastectomy

Most relevant for: Young women of color with a BRCA mutation

Alejandra Campoverdi comes from a family with three generations of breast cancer. As a former White House aide and active educator in the Latina community, she has openly shared her story of genetic testing, her BRCA2 mutation and her plans for risk-reducing mastectomy at age 39. (6/6/19)

Relevance: High

Relevance

Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Guideline: FDA approves an immunotherapy treatment for some patients with triple-negative breast cancer

Most relevant for: People with metastatic, triple-negative breast cancer

The FDA approved the use of the immunotherapy drug atezolizumab (Tecentriq) in combination with the chemotherapy agent nab-paclitaxel (Abraxane) for certain patients with advanced triple-negative breast cancer. (5/26/19)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

Strength of Science

Study: Do Vitamin B supplements alter breast cancer risk for women with BRCA mutations?

Most relevant for: High risk women with a BRCA1 mutation

Vitamins are an essential part of our diet. Vitamin supplements are often used to improve general health. This study explores how vitamin B supplements may affect breast cancer risk in women with BRCA mutations. (5/17/19)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Human Research

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Study: Smart drug shows promising results for treatment of metastatic triple-negative breast cancer

Most relevant for: People with metastatic, 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 a combination of two different molecules: an antibody that targets certain types of cancer and delivers a chemotherapy drug that can kill cancer cells. This study looks at whether IMMU-132 is safe and effective for treating metastatic TNBC. (4/16/19)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Guideline: Breast surgeons recommend genetic testing for all breast cancer patients

Most relevant for: Anyone diagnosed with breast cancer

Summary: 

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)

Relevance: High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: Gaps in information about breast cancer risk and prevention impact African American women

Most relevant for: African American women who are at high risk for breast cancer

A study showed that African American women with increased breast cancer risk experienced greater burdens in obtaining information at each step compared to white women. Racial differences in preventive choices correlated with differences in information and provider access. (3/14/19)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

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Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: Prevalence of BRCA founder mutations in Bahamian women

Most relevant for: Bahamanian women

Summary:

The Bahamas has the highest known frequency of BRCA mutations among people diagnosed with breast cancer. This study reviewed whether population-based BRCA testing (testing everyone regardless of family or personal history of cancer) would be an effective approach for finding mutation carriers in the Bahamas. (3/4/19)

Relevance: Medium-Low

Relevance

Strength of Science: Low

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: Breast cancer implant study suggests links with illness but has serious flaws

Most relevant for: Women with or considering breast implant reconstruction

Summary

An article in the Annals of Surgery, researchers conclude that their work supports an association between silicone breast implants and a range of conditions. This journal article was accompanied by two editorials in which experts voiced their disagreement with the way the analysis was performed and the conclusions of the authors. (2/21/19)

Relevance: Low

Relevance

Research Timeline: Lab Research

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Article: Promise of a cure for cancer is too good to be true

Most relevant for: People diagnosed with cancer

Summary:

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)

Relevance: High

Relevance

Quality of Writing: High

Quality of Writing

Article: The cost of cancer care and impact of financial hardship on treatment

Most relevant for: Anyone diagnosed with cancer

Summary:

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)

Relevance: High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: The impact of palbociclib (Ibrance) on overall survival for metastatic breast cancer patients in the PALOMA-3 trial

Most relevant for: People with metastatic, hormone-positive breast cancer

Summary: 

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)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Study: FORCE online survey: What breast cancer information do young women want and where do they look for it?

Most relevant for: Young women and the health care providers who treat them

Summary:

FORCE developed the CDC-funded Examining Relevance of Articles to Young Survivors or XRAYS program to help young breast cancer survivors and those at high-risk better understand media coverage about new breast cancer research. To ensure that the program would be responsive to users’ needs, FORCE designed a web-based survey to assess where young women look for information about breast cancer and to learn their unmet information needs.  The results of this survey were published in the journal Health Communications. (1/18/19)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Human Research

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Study: Improving outcomes for young women with breast cancer: fertility and childbearing issues

Most relevant for: Women diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age

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)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

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Study: Breast cancer risk increases modestly after childbirth

Most relevant for: Women in their childbearing years

Does having children alter the risk of breast cancer? Women who give birth have a lower lifetime risk of breast cancer. However, newer data suggests that breast cancer risk increases immediately after childbirth. A study published in December 2018 examines data from the Premenopausal Breast Cancer Collective Group seeking to clarify this issue. (12/28/18)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: Inherited breast cancer in Nigerian women

Most relevant for: Nigerian women or women of Nigerian descent who have breast cancer

A new study shows that among Nigerian women, one in eight cases of breast cancer is due to an inherited mutation in BRCA1, BRCA2, PALB2 or TP53. (12/5/18)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Quality of Writing: High

Quality of Writing

Personal Story: Pamela Munster's story of cancer in the family

Most relevant for: People with an inherited mutation linked to cancer

In her essay in 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)

Relevance: High

Relevance

Strength of Science: High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: Can population-based DNA sequencing find more people at risk for hereditary cancers?

Most relevant for: Women over age 30

It is well documented that many BRCA mutation carriers are missed using current family history-based screening approaches. As a result, experts are beginning to call for population-based BRCA genetic testing—an organized effort to screen all women like we do for breast and cervical cancer.  A recent study looked at whether a population-based genetic testing approach would better identify mutation carriers compared with current practice. (11/17/18)

Relevance: High

Relevance

Quality of Writing: High

Quality of Writing

Article: The importance of racial diversity in clinical trials

Most relevant for: People who are a member of a racial or ethnic minority group

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)

Relevance: High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: Surgeon attitude impacts rate of genetic testing after a breast cancer diagnosis

Most relevant for: Young women diagnosed with breast cancer who have not yet had genetic testing

A study in JAMA Surgery this year examined the factors that impact genetic testing after a breast cancer diagnosis. This study suggests that the attitudes of attending surgeons about genetic testing have the most impact on whether patients receive testing. (10/6/18)

Relevance: Medium-Low

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Human Research

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Study: A new method for determining whether genetic variants in BRCA1 increase cancer risk

Most relevant for: People who have a Variant of Uncertain Significance in a gene associated with cancer risk.

Ever since BRCA1 was discovered, researchers have been trying to understand which of the thousands of possible DNA changes in this gene increase cancer risk and which are harmless changes.  A new study in Nature reports how a cutting-edge technology called “genome editing” may be used to classify changes—known as variants of uncertain significance-in BRCA1 as harmful or harmless. Once validated, this same technology may be used to classify variants in other genes. (9/29/18)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Quality of Writing: Medium-High

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Article: Cancer experience in families affects decision making

Most relevant for: Women with an inherited mutation linked to increased risk for cancer

Women with inherited mutations in genes that increase breast and ovarian cancer risk have an additional challenge: coping with how those mutations impact their families and how a family member’s cancer experience can shape their own perception. In a recent U.S. News and World Report article, Elaine Howley explores how a woman's decisions about healthcare, cancer prevention and treatment are affected by experience with cancer in the family. (9/25/18)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: Hormone therapy and breast cancer risk after ovary removal in women with a BRCA1 mutation

Most relevant for: Women with BRCA1 mutations who have had risk-reducing ovary removal and have never been diagnosed with breast cancer

Does hormone therapy (HT) alter the risk of breast cancer for woman carrying a BRCA1 mutation who have never been diagnosed with cancer? In this study, researchers showed that among women with BRCA1 mutations, HT use did not increase breast cancer rates for 10 years after ovary removal. More women taking combined estrogen plus progesterone developed breast cancer compared to those taking estrogen only, though this difference was not statistically significant. (9/7/18)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Human Research

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Study: Gardening improves health outcomes for breast cancer patients

Most relevant for: People diagnosed with breast cancer who would benefit from increased activity and from eating more vegetables

Research has shown that adopting a healthier lifestyle may improve overall health and outcomes for cancer survivors. This study looked at a 1-year home-based gardening intervention to increase activity and wellbeing among breast cancer survivors. (08/31/18)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: Study identifies genes associated with risk of triple-negative breast cancer

Most relevant for: People diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer

Panel testing can identify women who are at increased risk for breast cancer.  However, those at risk for triple-negative breast cancer cannot easily be identified because other than BRCA1, genes that increase the risk for triple-negative breast cancer are unknown.  A new study uses panel testing to identify which genes increase the risk for triple-negative breast cancer. (8/23/18)

Relevance: High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

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Study: Declining use of chemotherapy for early-stage breast cancer: examining oncologist recommendations

Most relevant for: People diagnosed with early stage breast cancer

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)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Human Research

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Study: Immunotherapy may lead to long-term remission of metastatic breast cancer

Most relevant for: People with advanced cancers

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)

Relevance: Medium

Relevance

Quality of Writing: Medium-Low

Quality of Writing

Article: Interview with Angelina Jolie's doctor promotes meatless diet and scientific inaccuracies

Most relevant for:

Dr. Kristi Funk, Angelina Jolie's Hollywood breast surgeon, is promoting her new book about breast cancer. This article from the UK newspaper The Times includes an interview with Funk about her book, which proposes that diet is responsible for breast cancer. This XRAYS addresses scientific inaccuracies in this article. (8/7/18)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: Some women with early-stage breast cancer forego chemotherapy

Most relevant for: People with node-negative, ER-positive breast cancer

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)

Relevance: High

Relevance

Quality of Writing: High

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Article: High health insurance deductibles can interfere with breast cancer treatment decisions

Most relevant for: People diagnosed with breast cancer

A New York Times article published on May 4, 2018 examines the impact of high insurance deductibles on breast cancer treatment. (7/12/18)

Relevance: Medium

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Human Research

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Study: Evaluation of some direct-to-consumer genetic testing reveals inaccuracies and misinterpretations

Most relevant for: People who are considering or have had direct-to-consumer testing

A clinical genetic testing laboratory examined results from direct-to-consumer genetic testing ordered directly by patients. They found many instances of false positives—reported mutations that were not actually present—and in some cases, reports of variants that "increased risk," but were actually benign. This study emphasized the importance of involving genetics experts in the interpretation of genetic test results. (6/28/18)

Relevance: High

Relevance

Strength of Science: High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: Disparities in research impact breast screening guidelines

Most relevant for: Women at average risk for breast cancer

For women at average risk of breast cancer, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) currently recommends beginning annual breast cancer screening at age 50. However, because these guidelines are largely based on data from white women, they may not be sensitive to racial differences.  A new study assesses the age distribution of breast cancer cases across race/ethnicity in the U.S. (6/21/18)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Human Research

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Study: Mutations in Lynch syndrome genes MSH6 and PMS2 may be associated with breast cancer

Most relevant for: Women with an MSH6 or PMS2 mutation

Some women with mutations in MSH6 and PMS2, two Lynch syndrome genes, may have a modest (2 to 3-fold) increased risk for breast cancer. (6/14/18 updated 09/25/19)

Relevance: High

Relevance

Quality of Writing: Medium-High

Quality of Writing

Personal Story: Juliet's story: No reconstruction is a post-mastectomy option

Most relevant for: Women who have had or are considering mastectomy without reconstruction

In a March 2018 article from breastcancercare.org, Juliet conveys her personal experience with a breast cancer diagnosis and her decision to not have her breasts reconstructed after her mastectomy. She details the emotional complexity of her thought process and the empowerment she felt in her decisions. (5/24/18)

Relevance: Medium

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Human Research

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Study: Metastasis is affected by wound healing and inflammation in study on mice

Most relevant for: Cancer patients who will be, or have recently undergone surgery

This study in mice looked at how wound healing after surgery affects metastasis. Researchers found that wound healing caused changes in the mouse immune system that allowed some cancer cells to grow, but that treatment with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) reduced inflammation and frequency of metastases. While this research is promising, it remains to be seen if similar effects occur in humans. (5/17/18)

Relevance: High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: Childbearing after breast cancer among young survivors

Most relevant for: Young breast cancer survivors who wish to become pregnant

Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer as an adolescent or young adult often have not yet begun or finished childbearing. Researchers studied the impact of breast cancer and related treatment on birth rates and birth outcomes in young survivors. Overall, adverse birth outcomes were not increased for young survivors compared to women without cancer.  However, women with ER-negative breast cancers had a modestly higher frequency of preterm and low weight births. The authors highlight the need for fertility counseling and potential fertility preserving methods prior to treatment. (5/10/18)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Guideline: American Heart Association examines the challenges of cardiovascular disease and breast cancer

Most relevant for: People diagnosed with breast cancer

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)

Relevance: High

Relevance

Quality of Writing: High

Quality of Writing

Article: The right not to know when not knowing is dangerous

Most relevant for: People with Icelandic heritage

Healthcare providers are bound by the guiding principle of doing no harm. But how does this concept apply to their patients who have not consented to genetic testing or who do not want to know their results? In that case, is providing test results more harmful or not? Anna Clausen explores these issues in the context of breast cancer gene testing in her Global Health Now article “The Right Not to Know: When Ignorance is Bliss but Deadly.” (4/20/18)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: FDA updates report on risk of lymphoma from breast implants

Most relevant for: Women who currently have textured implants or expanders or who have had them in the past

Note: On 07/25/19, the FDA announced a recall of Allergan BIOCELL textured implants and expanders, due to their association with BIA-ALCL. 

In March 2017, the Food and Drug Administration reported that patients with breast implants may be at increased risk for a rare type of lymphoma. This was covered in a previous XRAYS review. The FDA has continued to collect data since the first reported association in 2011. Recently, the agency released an update on the number of reported cases of breast implant-associated lymphoma and lifetime risk estimates for women with textured breast implants. (04/02/18)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium

Strength of Science

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

Most relevant for: Young high risk women

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)

Relevance: Medium

Relevance

Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Guideline: FDA approves at-home test kits for inherited cancer: how useful are they?

Most relevant for: People who are considering or have had direct-to-consumer testing through 23andMe

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)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Quality of Writing: Medium

Quality of Writing

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

Most relevant for: People considering testing for an inherited gene mutation

An 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)

Relevance: Low

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Strength of Science: Medium

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Research Timeline: Animal Studies

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Study: Is asparagus linked to breast cancer metastasis?

Most relevant for: People diagnosed with breast cancer

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)

Relevance: Medium-Low

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Strength of Science: Medium-Low

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Research Timeline: Animal Studies

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Study: Cancer “vaccine” injected directly into tumors works in mice

Most relevant for: People with advanced cancers

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)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Strength of Science: High

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

Most relevant for: Young breast cancer patients

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)

Relevance: Medium

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Quality of Writing: Medium-High

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Article: Oncoplastic breast-conserving surgery with BioZorb® technology

Most relevant for: Women undergoing lumpectomy for breast cancer

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) 

Relevance: High

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Strength of Science: High

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Research Timeline: Post Approval

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

Most relevant for: Women at increased risk for breast cancer due to an inherited mutation

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)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Strength of Science: Medium-High

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Research Timeline: Post Approval

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

Most relevant for: Breast cancer patients who are considering or have had a 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)

Relevance: Medium

Relevance

Quality of Writing: High

Quality of Writing

Research Timeline: Human Research

Research Timeline

Article: The buzz around MonaLisa Touch

Most relevant for: Women experiencing vaginal symptoms from menopause

THIS INFORMATION HAS BEEN UPDATED. The FDA issued an alert in July, 2018 noting that laser or radiofrequency devices that have received FDA clearance are ONLY cleared for treating abnormal or pre-cancerous cervical or vaginal tissue and genital warts and have NOT been approved for vaginal rejuvenation. There are currently clinical trials enrolling women to study whether laser and radiofrequency devices can improve vaginal atrophy and other menopausal symptoms. 

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)

Relevance: Medium-Low

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Strength of Science: Medium-Low

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Research Timeline: Human Research

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Study: No new high-risk breast cancer genes here

Most relevant for: People with a family history of breast cancer but no known inherited mutation

While some of the genes that cause hereditary breast cancer are known (for example, inherited mutations in genes like BRCA, ATM and PALB2), others remain unidentified. Two studies found 72 DNA changes (also known as “variants” or “SNPs”) that affect breast cancer risk. These variants are different from mutations in genes that dramatically increase cancer risk. Most of these new variants are located outside of the portion of DNA that is used to make proteins. Further research is needed on these new variants before they can be used by doctors to help people understand and manage their risk for cancer. (1/12/18)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Quality of Writing: Medium-High

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Article: Coping with the financial burden of breast cancer

Most relevant for: People diagnosed with 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)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Strength of Science: Medium-High

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Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: Does extending hormonal therapy impact risk of breast cancer recurrence?

Most relevant for: Women with early-stage ER-positive breast cancer

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. This 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)

Relevance: High

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Strength of Science: Medium-High

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Study: Birth control and breast cancer risk among younger women

Most relevant for: Young women on, or considering taking hormonal birth control

On December 7, 2017 the New England Journal of Medicine published results from a study by Lina Mørrch of the University of Copenhagen and colleagues showing that hormonal contraceptives (birth control) increase the risk of breast cancer. The study is unique because it is one of the first to specifically assess the breast cancer risk associated with newer, low-dosage methods of contraception. The large and significant effort analyzed medical data of nearly 1.8 million young women in Denmark on average for over 10.9 years. Results were covered widely in the U.S. by many major media outlets, including the New York Times, USA Today, Forbes and Time.  (12/14/17)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Strength of Science: Medium-High

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Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: Genetic counseling by phone or face-to-face

Most relevant for: People referred to a genetic counselor or those considering genetic testing

Results presented at the 2017 American Psychological Association’s annual meeting showed genetic counseling by telephone is as “safe and effective” in long-term psychological and social outcomes compared to traditional in-person counseling for women at risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. This presentation is an update on research published in 2014. (11/29/17)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Guideline: Can MammaPrint guide treatment decisions?

Most relevant for: Women diagnosed with ER-positive, Her2-negative early-stage breast cancer with 0-3 positive nodes

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). 

Relevance: High

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Strength of Science: Medium

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Study: Alcohol and breast cancer risk in African American women

Most relevant for: African American women who would like to lower their breast cancer risk

The link between alcohol intake and breast cancer is well known, but most studies have involved only White women. Recently, a large study of more than 22,000 African American (AA) women found that similar to White women, increased alcohol consumption is associated with a greater risk of breast cancer. (10/27/17)

Relevance: Medium

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Quality of Writing: Medium-High

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Article: Mixed reviews of at-home genetic testing

Most relevant for: People who are considering or have had direct-to-consumer testing

National guidelines recommend that patients meet with a genetics expert before undergoing genetic testing for cancer risk. Genetic counseling can help patients decide whether genetic testing is right for them and order the most appropriate test. Once test results are available, genetics experts also help patients understand their results. Over the last decade, the popularity of direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing, such as 23andMe has grown. Some genetic tests are marketed to consumers on television, in print advertisements, and on the Internet. These “at-home” genetic tests give people direct access to their genetic information without first involving a healthcare provider in the process. A recent report outlines the benefits and limitations of DTC genetic testing. (10/20/17)

Relevance: Medium-Low

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Strength of Science: Medium

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Research Timeline: Animal Studies

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Study: Can chemotherapy before surgery fuel breast cancer metastasis?

Most relevant for: Newly diagnosed breast cancer patients

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)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Strength of Science: Medium

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Study: Beauty and the breast: hair product use and breast cancer risk

Most relevant for: Women who use hair products who are concerned about their risk for breast cancer

Past studies using mostly animal models showed a link between use of hair products (dyes, straighteners and relaxers) and increased risk of certain cancers. In this study, researchers looked at data on hair product use among African-American (AA) and White women to see if certain types of hair products increased breast cancer risk, and how that risk might differ between race and breast cancer hormone status. (9/27/2017)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Quality of Writing: Medium-High

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Article: Can lifestyle changes impact breast cancer risk?

Most relevant for: Any woman concerned about her risk for breast cancer

A recent New York Times article shared how “adopting protective living habits”  could help keep breast cancer “at bay”.  While many of these lifestyle changes and strategies like not smoking, avoiding weight gain, reducing alcohol consumption, eating a heart-healthy diet, and increasing physical activity have been shown to reduce breast cancer risk, there are other risk factors that one cannot control such as having a BRCA or other mutation that significantly increases breast cancer risk. Importantly, no one strategy has been proven to totally eliminate breast cancer risk. However many of these approaches have overall health benefits. (9/21/2017)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Strength of Science: Medium-High

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Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: Does expanded genetic testing benefit Jewish women diagnosed with breast cancer?

Most relevant for: Jewish women with breast cancer who previously tested negative for the three most common BRCA mutations

BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations are common in people of Eastern European (Ashkenazi) Jewish descent. About 2% of all Ashkenazi Jewish people will test positive for one of three common mutations in these genes. Genetic testing for Jewish people sometimes focuses on only the three most common mutations. For Jewish women with breast cancer, little is known about their chance of carrying a different hereditary mutation that may increase risk. This study looked at expanded genetic testing in Jewish women diagnosed with breast cancer to learn how often they carried mutations other than the three most common BRCA gene mutations found in Ashkenazi Jewish people. (09/13/17)

Relevance: Medium

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Strength of Science: Medium-Low

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Study: Breast cancers can disappear without treatment: fact or fiction?

Most relevant for: Women with abnormal mammograms

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)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Strength of Science: Medium

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Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: Does aspirin lower a woman’s breast cancer risk?

Most relevant for: Women at average risk for breast cancer

Women who take aspirin regularly may have a reduced risk of breast cancer. However, previous studies have reported mixed results. Few of these studies have looked at whether this potential benefit of aspirin is linked to specific types of breast cancer. This study found a small reduction in breast cancer risk for women who took a low-dose aspirin at least three times per week, but only for one subtype of breast cancer. Women who took aspirin were less likely to develop ER/PR-positive, Her2- negative breast cancer, the most common type of breast cancer. This study found no breast cancer risk reduction for women who used regular-dose aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). (8/29/17)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Quality of Writing: High

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Article: Parents face challenges when deciding the best time to tell children that they may be at high risk for cancer

Most relevant for: Parents who have an inherited gene mutation

When certain types of cancers run in families, genetic testing can determine whether the cause is hereditary. Genetic testing can help family members understand their cancer risk and make medical decisions to stay healthy. A test result can provide significant insight, but it also creates challenges for parents, because gene mutations that cause hereditary cancers can be passed from mothers and fathers to sons and daughters. People with these mutations must make difficult decisions about when to tell their children that they too may have inherited the mutation. (8/22/2017)

Relevance: Medium

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Strength of Science: Medium

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Study: Breast cancer rates are rapidly increasing among Asian women in California

Most relevant for: Asian American women

The majority of racial groups in the United States have seen declines in breast cancer rates. However, this study provides new insights into the patterns of breast cancer rates in Asian American subgroups in California. Using 26 years of data, this research found that breast cancer is rapidly increasing among this population, contrasting to a decline in rates among non-Hispanic white women in California and nationwide. (8/15/17)

Relevance: Medium

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Strength of Science: Medium

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Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: Do physicians recommend breast cancer screenings based on guidelines?

Most relevant for: Women at average risk for breast cancer

Several guidelines help physicians decide when a woman should begin screening for breast cancer and how often she should be screened. However, are these guidelines put into use in the clinic? (8/8/17)

Relevance: High

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Strength of Science: High

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Study: New cancer risk estimates for BRCA1/2 mutation carriers

Most relevant for: Women with an inherited mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2

Cancer risk estimates for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers are important because they impact patient decision-making. Until now, almost all risk estimates for mutation carriers were based on results of retrospective studies that looked back on mutation carriers who had cancer. This new study is prospective—it followed almost 10,000 BRCA mutation carriers without cancer to see if or when they developed breast or ovarian cancer. The cancer risk estimates of this study may be more accurate because it followed mutation carriers who did not have cancer over time. (7/28/17)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Strength of Science: Medium-High

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Study: Gaps in genetic testing and decision-making for women with early-stage breast cancer

Most relevant for: People diagnosed with early stage breast cancer

Genetic testing for cancer risk is now more affordable and easier to obtain. As a result, many breast cancer patients are tested without ever seeing a genetic counselor. Genetic testing results affect treatment decision making, but they can be confusing, especially if patients do not receive genetic counseling. This study looks at breast cancer patients’ experiences following genetic testing and how testing results affect surgical decision making. (7/14/17)

Study: Immunotherapy shows promise in triple-negative breast cancer

Most relevant for:

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)  

Relevance: Medium-High

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Strength of Science: Medium

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Study: Diet during teen years and early adulthood is linked to breast cancer risk

Most relevant for: Adolescent and young adult women

During teen years, breast tissue grows rapidly in young girls and is more likely to be harmed by substances that are known to cause cancer. Few studies have looked at the relationship between diet during puberty and breast cancer risk. This study looks at how a woman’s diet during their teenage years and early adulthood is associated with breast cancer development later in life. (6/30/17)

Relevance: High

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Quality of Writing: High

Quality of Writing

Article: FDA busts myths of preventing and treating cancer by eating apricot kernels, herbs, and other ingredients

Most relevant for: People diagnosed with or concerned about their risk for cancer

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)

Relevance: Medium

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Strength of Science: Medium

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Research Timeline: Human Research

Research Timeline

Study: Cost savings associated with a shorter course or omission of radiation treatment for early-stage breast cancer

Most relevant for:

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)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Strength of Science: Medium

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Study: Pregnancy around the time of a breast cancer diagnosis does not negatively affect survival

Most relevant for: Young women diagnosed during or right after pregnancy and young survivors considering pregnancy after breast cancer

The number of women who become pregnant around the time of, or after a breast cancer diagnosis is increasing. However, it is unclear whether pregnancy around the time of a breast cancer diagnosis impacts survival. This recently published study demonstrates that the timing of pregnancy does not negatively affect breast cancer survival rates. (5/24/17)

Relevance: High

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Strength of Science: Medium-High

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Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: Does scalp cooling help prevent hair loss after chemotherapy?

Most relevant for: Patient undergoing chemotherapy

Hair loss is one of the most recognized and distressing side effects of some chemotherapies. Two studies looked at the use of scalp cooling therapy to help reduce hair loss after chemotherapy for early-stage breast cancer. (5/15/17) 

Update: Based on data from clinical trials, the FDA approved Dignicap scalp cooling device for treatment in patients diagnosed with solid tumors who are receiving chemotherapy. 

Relevance: Medium-Low

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Strength of Science: Medium-Low

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Research Timeline: Animal Studies

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Study: Common genetic change found in some tumors of patients who relapse after aromatase inhibitor treatment

Most relevant for: Patients with ER+ breast cancer

About one in five people diagnosed with estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer relapse within 10 years after treatment. Researchers and health care providers do not know why this happens. This early research aims to identify a genetic change in the tumor that may cause relapse, but more studies are needed to understand why patients relapse and who is at risk. (5/3/17)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Strength of Science: Medium

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Study: Does eating soy affect the risk of death in breast cancer survivors?

Most relevant for:

Is eating soy safe for people who have had breast cancer? This topic has been controversial among health care providers, patients, and survivors for many years because research has yielded mixed results. Some studies suggest people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer should eat more soy products, while other studies recommend they eat less or avoid it altogether. Which should it be? Adding to this research is a new study that asked breast cancer survivors about their soy consumption before and after diagnosis. (4/27/17)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: FDA report claims women with breast implants may be at risk for rare cancer

Most relevant for: Women who had or are consideration breast reconstruction with implants

THIS INFORMATION HAS BEEN UPDATED. The FDA issued an update in March, 2018 about Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). This was covered in a more recent XRAY review. On 07/25/19, the FDA announced a recall of Allergan BIOCELL textured implants and expanders, due to their association with BIA-ALCL. This was also covered in a more recent XRAY review.

Recent headlines highlighted an FDA report stating that patients with breast implants may be at increased risk for a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. What is the scientific evidence behind this claim? (4/21/17)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Strength of Science: Medium

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Study: Nearly half of breast cancer patients experience a severe side effect after treatment

Most relevant for: People diagnosed with early stage breast cancer

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. (4/11/17)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Strength of Science: Medium-Low

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Study: Routine breast cancer screening leads to overdiagnosis

Most relevant for: Women at average risk for breast cancer

Routine breast cancer screening for women of average risk has been controversial for many years because some believe that the benefits do not outweigh the risks. Recent headlines covering a study in Denmark suggests that routine breast cancer screening leads to “overdiagnosis” of breast cancer. (4/4/17)

Relevance: Medium-Low

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Strength of Science: Medium-High

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Research Timeline: Animal Studies

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Article: Does metastasis happen earlier than previously thought?

Most relevant for:

Sharon Begley discusses an unconventional new idea about how cancer cells spread (a process known as metastasis) in her recent piece for the website STAT. She states that, “cancer cells spread way earlier than thought, seeding metastases that cause most deaths.” (3/28/17)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Strength of Science: Medium

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Research Timeline: Human Research

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Study: Does working night shifts increase breast cancer risk?

Most relevant for: Women who work night shifts or have in the past

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified night shift work as a possible risk factor for breast cancer in 2007, although the majority of the evidence for this claim came from studies of animals after their normal sleep-wake cycle was disrupted. The authors of this study surveyed women from three different cohorts to examine whether night shift work can increase a woman’s breast cancer risk. (3/24/17)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Strength of Science: Medium-High

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Study: Friends and family may help breast cancer survival

Most relevant for: People diagnosed with breast cancer

Does having a large social network help breast cancer survivors have better outcomes? Research from the current study found that socially isolated breast cancer survivors had an increased risk of recurrence and breast cancer-specific mortality. (3/16/17)

Relevance: High

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Strength of Science: Medium-High

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Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: Patient experiences with genetic testing

Most relevant for: Women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer

Patients can now find out if they have a mutation in more than 20 different genes that are associated with cancer risk, thanks to research advances and the decreasing cost of genetic testing. However, patients’ experiences and use of genetic counseling and testing with these changes are unknown. Do patients want genetic testing? Are they getting tested? (3/7/17)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Strength of Science: Medium

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Research Timeline: Human Research

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Study: Research suggests exercise is safe for breast cancer patients at risk for lymphedema

Most relevant for: People with, or at high risk for lymphedema after breast cancer

Patients and health care providers are often concerned about how exercise affects lymphedema (swelling in the arm or hand) in breast cancer survivors or other women who have had lymph node biopsy at the time of mastectomy. Research on this topic has been mixed. A new study suggests that exercise after breast cancer treatment does not lead to lymphedema or worsen existing lymphedema. However, because this study was small, more work needs to be done to understand the relationship between exercise and lymphedema in cancer survivors. (2/22/17)

Relevance: Medium-Low

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Strength of Science: Medium-High

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Research Timeline: Lab Research

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Study: Hot chili pepper component slows growth and kills laboratory-grown breast cancer cells

Most relevant for: This research is not relevant to people yet

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)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Strength of Science: Medium-High

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Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: A step in the development of a new breast cancer risk assessment tool for Hispanic women

Most relevant for: Hispanic women

Current tools used to calculate breast cancer risk make their estimations based on data from non-Hispanic white women and may not accurately predict breast cancer risk in women of other races and ethnicities. With further testing, a new risk assessment tool developed specifically for Hispanic women could more accurately predict breast cancer risk in women who do not have mutations in BRCA or other genes associated with hereditary breast cancer. (02/07/17)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Strength of Science: Medium

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Study: “Chemobrain” seen in breast cancer patients up to six months after treatment

Most relevant for: People diagnosed with breast cancer who have or will be treated with chemotherapy

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)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Strength of Science: Medium

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Research Timeline: Human Research

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Study: Does prior antidepressant use affect the treatment breast cancer patients receive?

Most relevant for: Women diagnosed with breast cancer who have received antidepressants

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)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Strength of Science: Medium

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Study: Women with breast cancer symptoms but no lump may wait longer to seek medical care

Most relevant for: People with breast cancer symptoms

Some patients take longer than others before getting a potential breast cancer checked by their health care provider. Believing that women who have breast cancer symptoms but have no lump may wait longer, researchers in this study used data from women who were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 and 2010 to identify possible explanations. (1/18/17)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Strength of Science: Medium

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Research Timeline: Human Research

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Study: High vitamin D levels at breast cancer diagnosis may be associated with a better prognosis

Most relevant for: Women at average risk for breast cancer and newly diagnosed women

Vitamin D is most known for its role in maintaining bone health but vitamin D has additional roles in keeping us healthy. In this study, researchers found that breast cancer patients who had the highest amounts of vitamin D in their blood (slightly over the recommended levels) had better health outcomes, including overall survival, than women with lower amounts of vitamin D. This finding adds to the growing evidence for the role of vitamin D in cancer, but it does not change how breast cancer is prevented or treated. (1/10/17)

Relevance: Medium

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Strength of Science: Medium-Low

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Study: Angelina Jolie spoke out on BRCA testing: Did genetic testing increase?

Most relevant for: People interested in genetic testing for an inherited mutation

Angelina Jolie published an editorial in the New York Times in 2013 about her choice to have a double mastectomy after finding out she was positive for a BRCA1 mutation. Researchers from a recent study claim that her celebrity endorsement of BRCA testing may have missed its target audience (previvors), due to the increase in BRCA testing following publication of the editorial but a decrease in the number of mastectomies performed. However, the study failed to take into account that many women without breast cancer do not pursue mastectomy in the months following genetic testing. (1/4/17)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Quality of Writing: High

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Personal Story: Male transgender breast cancer patient shares his experience in NYT piece

Most relevant for: Transgender men with, or at high risk for breast cancer

Denise Grady’s New York Times piece presents the struggles faced by Eli Oberman, a male transgender patient who was diagnosed with breast cancer, including the difficulty of being the only male patient in gynecologist waiting rooms that are full of women. (12/21/16)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Quality of Writing: Medium-High

Quality of Writing

Article: After mastectomy: reconstruct or not?

Most relevant for: Woman who are facing mastectomy

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)

Relevance: Medium

Relevance

Quality of Writing: Medium-Low

Quality of Writing

Article: Headlines claim drug combination destroys tumor in 11 days—is this too good to be true?

Most relevant for: People with Her2-positive breast cancer

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)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Quality of Writing: Medium

Quality of Writing

Personal Story: Men get breast cancer too

Most relevant for: Men diagnosed with breast cancer

Cathy Free's piece for People, “Men Have Breasts Too: New York Man Who Survived Stage 2 Breast Cancer Spreads Message,” tells the stories of two men whose experiences with breast cancer inspired them to speak openly about breast cancer awareness for men. (11/29/16)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium

Strength of Science

Study: Cancer treatment costs can vary widely

Most relevant for: People diagnosed with breast cancer

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)

Relevance: Medium

Relevance

Quality of Writing: Medium-Low

Quality of Writing

Personal Story: Why one woman passed on genetic testing

Most relevant for: People considering genetic testing and people who are Ashkenazi Jewish

What are reasons to get or not get genetic testing? Cynthia Graber gives her thoughts on the matter in her Wired opinion piece, "Why I Won't Get the Genetic Test for Breast Cancer." (11/15/16)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Quality of Writing: High

Quality of Writing

Personal Story: CBS News brings attention to the issues facing young metastatic breast cancer patients

Most relevant for: Women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer

Beth Caldwell is a former civil rights lawyer, a mother of two, and a wife who was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer when she 37. Mary Brophy Marcus covered Beth’s story in her piece, “The hardest part” of breast cancer under 40, for CBS News. (11/8/16)

Relevance: Medium

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

Strength of Science

Study: Removing ovaries before age 50 may increase the risk of chronic conditions for some women

Most relevant for: Women under 50 years of age who have had or are considering removing their ovaries

Removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes prevents ovarian cancer, but it may come with other health risks. Experts recommend removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes in women at high risk for ovarian cancer due to inherited mutations in BRCA or other genes linked to ovarian cancer risk. For these high-risk women the benefit of ovarian cancer prevention outweighs the risk of long-term complications. Based on a recent study, some researchers feel that for women who are not at increased risk for cancer, the risk for some chronic conditions is too high to consider removal of both ovaries. (11/1/16)

Relevance: Medium

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium

Strength of Science

Study: Breast cancer mortality among Hispanic women in the United States varies by country of origin

Most relevant for:

"Hispanic" is a broad ethnic category that includes people from numerous countries. When discussing breast cancer statistics, Mexicans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans and people whose families originated in Central and South America are typically grouped into one Hispanic category. A new study looked at whether the country of origin affected breast cancer prevalence and mortality rates in Hispanic women in the U.S. (10/25/16)

Relevance: Medium

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium

Strength of Science

Study: Breast cancer screening should be tailored to a woman’s risk factors and breast density

Most relevant for: Women who are at high risk for breast cancer due to family history, dense breasts, LCIS, or multiple biopsies

The United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends a screening mammogram every other year for women ages 50-74 who are at average risk for breast cancer. But do all patients in this category benefit from this screening regimen?

Relevance: High

Relevance

Quality of Writing: High

Quality of Writing

Article: Huffington Post article brings attention to metastatic breast cancer

Most relevant for: People diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer

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.

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Post Approval

Research Timeline

Study: Rare mutations in PALB2, CHEK2, and ATM: how much do they increase cancer risk?

Most relevant for: People who tested positive for one of the rare variants in CHEK2, ATM or PALB2 that are covered in this study

As multi-gene panel tests become more common, people are discovering they have mutations in genes that are not understood as well as BRCA. This can make it difficult to give patients accurate assessments of their cancer risk. For example, mutations in PALB2, CHEK2, and ATM are rare, but some specific changes in these genes are even less common. The goal of this international collaboration was to better understand the cancer risks of some very rare PALB2, CHEK2, and ATM mutations. The findings are relevant only to the specific mutations covered in this paper and do not apply to all people with mutations in PALB2, CHEK2, or ATM. (9/27/16)

Relevance: Medium

Relevance

Quality of Writing: High

Quality of Writing

Article: A cancer patient’s tumor is genetically profiled—how does that info help treatment?

Most relevant for: People diagnosed with advanced cancer

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). Update: THIS INFORMATION HAS BEEN UPDATED. In late 2017, the FDA approved two separate tumor profiling tests to help guide treatment choices. The FoundationOne CDx (F1CDx) genomic test has been approved to test for 15 different targeted therapies used to treat five types of cancer, including ovarian, colorectal, lung, breast and melanoma. The FDA also approved the MSK-IMPACT and developed for use by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) to scan tumor samples for 468 different cancer-associated mutations or alterations.

Relevance: Medium-Low

Relevance

Quality of Writing: Medium-Low

Quality of Writing

Personal Story: Dogs: Companions, hunters, and cancer detectors?

Most relevant for:

In August 2016, many news outlets published stories about how actress Shannen Doherty’s dog was able to sniff out her cancer before she was diagnosed. Is there scientific validity to that claim? (9/616)

Relevance: High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium

Strength of Science

Study: How beneficial is online communication after a new diagnosis of breast cancer?

Most relevant for:

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)

Relevance: Medium

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

Strength of Science

Study: Does IVF increase a woman’s risk for breast cancer?

Most relevant for: Woman at average risk for breast cancer who have or are considering undergoing In Vitro Fertilization

In vitro fertilization (IVF) wasn't commonly used until the 1980s, so its long-term effects are mostly unknown. A new study suggests that the treatment does not increase a woman's risk for developing breast cancer. (8/23/16)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Human Research

Research Timeline

Study: Can acupressure be used to treat cancer-related fatigue?

Most relevant for: Breast cancer survivors and people in treatment who are experiencing fatigue

Breast cancer survivors commonly report experiencing considerable fatigue, which can lead to sleep problems and poor quality of life. Yet, there are no good therapies for these patients. This research study looks at whether self-administered acupressure can help breast cancer survivors with their fatigue. (8/9/16)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Human Research

Research Timeline

Study: Is there a link between exercise and memory in breast cancer survivors?

Most relevant for: People diagnosed with early stage breast cancer

Exercise has many health benefits, but can it also help improve memory for breast cancer survivors? This research finds that breast cancer survivors who exercised more had less fatigue and distress (anxiety, depression, stress, and/or concern about recurrence) and scored better on memory tests. (8/2/16)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Post Approval

Research Timeline

Study: Extending aromatase inhibitor duration to 10 years lowers recurrence for ER/PR+ breast cancer patients

Most relevant for:

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)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Post Approval

Research Timeline

Study: Racial disparities in BRCA testing: Why?

Most relevant for: African American women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer

Black women receive BRCA testing less frequently than white women. Why is that? Researchers thought the reason might be that black and white women see different health care providers. However, new research suggests that disparities in physician recommendations for testing are the cause: black women with breast cancer were less likely to receive physician recommendations for BRCA testing than white women with breast cancer. There is a need to ensure equity in physician testing recommendations for black women. (7/21/16)

Study: Early research on a drug to prevent breast cancer

Most relevant for:

Many researchers are interested in non-surgical options to reduce the higher-than-average risk of developing breast cancer in BRCA mutation carriers. This research study identified a type of drug, called a “RANK ligand inhibitor,” that may prevent breast cancer. Among mice that were genetically engineered to have no BRCA1 genes, those that were given the drug developed tumors less frequently than those that did not. While this is an exciting early study for BRCA mutation carriers, more work and human clinical trials need to be done before this can be used as a prevention therapy in humans. (7/12/16)

Relevance: Medium

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Human Research

Research Timeline

Study: Breast cancer risk model updated for average risk women with genetic, lifestyle and environmental information

Most relevant for: Women at average risk for breast cancer

A number of factors are known to increase breast cancer risk, but some of these factors have not been included in models to predict breast cancer risk. This study looks at an updated model that includes some of these factors, such as genetics, smoking, and drinking. The goal of the model is to give women a more individualized breast cancer risk assessment. (6/29/16)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium

Strength of Science

Study: Does light alcohol consumption affect your breast cancer risk?

Most relevant for: Women who drink alcohol and are concerned about their breast cancer risk.

Alcohol is known to increase breast cancer risk, but does that include light consumption? This study indicates that some breast cancer occurrences and mortality is due to light alcohol consumption. (06/21/16)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Human Research

Research Timeline

Study: Dense breast notifications are informative but hard to read and understand

Most relevant for: Women with dense breast tissue on mammograms

Some states offer women dense breast notifications that are meant to explain that dense breasts are risk factors for breast cancer and can hide cancer on mammograms, and to identify appropriate supplemental screening options. But recent research found that this information is often not easy to read or understand, which questions the usefulness of the documents. (6/7/16)

Relevance: Medium

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

Strength of Science

Study: Can long periods of fasting protect against breast cancer recurrence?

Most relevant for: Breast cancer survivors

Previous research in mice suggested that long periods of fasting provide protection against factors that are associated with a poor cancer outcome. A new study associates prolonged fasting (13 hours or more) at night with a lower risk of breast cancer recurrence, but no association between fasting time at night and mortality. While these findings are interesting, more research needs to be done to confirm them. In the meantime, breast cancer survivors should discuss any concerns about nutrition with their health care providers. 05/30/16

Relevance: Medium

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Human Research

Research Timeline

Study: Do BRCA mutations affect fertility?

Most relevant for: Women with a BRCA mutation who want to become pregnant

Age affects fertility. As women age, their ovaries release eggs that are not as healthy as those released in younger women. Fewer eggs are released each menstrual cycle as women age, making it harder for older women to become pregnant. Are women with BRCA mutations less fertile? Previous research suggested that BRCA mutations might affect women's fertility as she ages. A recent study found that BRCA1 mutation carriers may have slightly lower fertility than women without the same mutation, but more research is needed before this finding is useful for medical decision-making. (5/24/16)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

Strength of Science

Study: Financial burden affects quality of life of cancer survivors

Most relevant for: People diagnosed with cancer

Cancer-related financial burden can keep survivors from getting the care that they need, yet how this burden affects mental and physical health is still unknown. A 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)

Relevance: Medium

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium

Strength of Science

Study: More patients with invasive breast cancer opting for double mastectomies

Most relevant for: Women diagnosed with breast cancer who are recommended to undergo a single mastectomy

Women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer have a number of surgical options. They can have breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy) with radiation, a unilateral (single) mastectomy to remove only the tissue from the cancerous breast, or a contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM), which removes both breasts. A new study finds that more women are opting for CPM, yet overall survival for these patients is not increasing. (5/3/2016)

Relevance: Medium

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Human Research

Research Timeline

Study: Cellular diversity in tumors may predict survival for some types of breast cancer

Most relevant for: People diagnosed with breast cancer that is "high-grade" or aggressive

Some tumors are made up of many different types of cells, while others contain generally the same cell type. This study found that among people with high-grade breast cancer, those who have tumors made up of many different cell types have a lower10-year survival rate than people with tumors containing only a single type of cells. This research is an early step towards developing a new test that can help physicians identify cancers that need more aggressive treatment, but more research is needed before it is ready for clinical use. (4/26/16)

Relevance: Medium

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Human Research

Research Timeline

Study: Is breast cancer risk increased in BRCA-mutation negative women?

Most relevant for: Women from a family with a known BRCA mutation who tested negative for the mutation in the family

Some women who do not carry a BRCA mutation, but come from a BRCA-positive family, still develop breast cancer. This research examines whether these women are at higher risk for breast cancer, or whether their risk is similar to women in the general population. (4/19/16)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

Strength of Science

Study: Factors that affect the ability to work in people with metastatic cancer

Most relevant for: People living with metastatic cancer

Some patients who live with metastatic cancer either want or need to continue working while coping with symptoms of their disease and treatment. A recent study that looked at over 600 people with metastatic breast, prostate, colon, or lung cancer found that about one-third of them continue working full or part time. People most likely to continue working were those undergoing hormonal treatment and those with less severe symptoms or side effects from treatment. (4/12/16)

Relevance: Medium

Relevance

Quality of Writing: Medium-Low

Quality of Writing

Article: New York Times report demonstrates need for genetic counseling, but doesn’t give the whole story

Most relevant for: People diagnosed with breast cancer

A New York Times report discussed how genetic testing could provide “grim data” without guidance for patients. While this is a valid concern, this report does not sufficiently emphasize certain important issues regarding genetic testing, particularly the need for genetic counseling by a health care provider with expertise in genetics before and after genetic testing. (4/5/16)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium

Strength of Science

Study: Do women who eat a high fiber diet have a lower risk of breast cancer?

Most relevant for: Adolescent and young adult women

Some researchers believe that dietary fiber may decrease breast cancer risk by lowering estrogen levels in the blood. However, many previous studies have failed to find a link between fiber consumption and lower breast cancer risk. The current study suggests that consuming high dietary fiber during adolescence and young adulthood may lower breast cancer risk, but more work needs to be done to confirm this finding. In the meantime, everyone is encouraged to eat a variety of high fiber foods for the many well-documented health benefits. (03/08/16)

Relevance: Medium

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Post Approval

Research Timeline

Study: What are the genetics underlying 12 different cancer types?

Most relevant for: People diagnosed with cancer

As gene sequencing has become more affordable, researchers and health care providers are now looking for mutations in many genes beyond BRCA1, BRCA2 and others that are associated with known hereditary cancer syndromes. By sequencing thousands of genes rather than just one or two, researchers can better understand which inherited mutations affect cancer risk. In this study, researchers sequenced thousands of genes in patients with one of 12 cancers, including breast, and catalogued which gene mutations are most commonly found in each cancer. (03/01/16)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Post Approval

Research Timeline

Study: Smoking before or after a breast cancer diagnosis associated with poorer breast cancer survival

Most relevant for: People who smoke cigarettes

Cigarette smoking is an important public health issue that causes more than 480,000 deaths annually. Smoking increases the risk of many diseases, from heart disease to stroke. This research indicates that smoking before and or after a diagnosis of breast cancer affects survival, and also shows that it is never too late to quit smoking. (02/23/16)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Post Approval

Research Timeline

Study: How do ultrasound and mammography compare in breast cancer screening?

Most relevant for: Young women at high risk for breast cancer with limited access to mammography and MRI is not easily accessible

Mammography has been shown to reduce breast cancer deaths; however, women in developing countries don’t have easy access to mammography. Ultrasound screening, on the other hand, is portable and less expensive, and could be an alternative to mammography. This study compared mammography to ultrasound in women with dense breasts and found the two techniques have similar cancer detection rates, although the false positive rate is higher with ultrasound. (02/16/16)

 

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Human Research

Research Timeline

Study: Are mutations in BRIP1, BARD1, PALB2, and NBN associated with an increased risk for ovarian cancer?

Most relevant for: People with an inherited mutation in BRIP1, BARD1, PALB2, NBN

Many women who have genetic testing for an inherited mutation find that they do not carry a mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2 despite their personal and family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer. Panel tests look for mutations in other genes associated with increased cancer risk. However, the cancer risk for people with mutations in some of these other genes is not yet known. This study looks at whether mutations in four genes, BRIP1, BARD1, PALB2, and NBN, are associated with an increased risk for ovarian cancer. The researchers found that BRIP1 mutation carriers have about a 6% risk of developing ovarian cancer by age 80. (02/09/16)

Relevance: Medium

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Animal Studies

Research Timeline

Study: Sugar promotes tumor growth and metastasis in mouse model breast cancer

Most relevant for: People diagnosed with breast cancer

Previous human studies found associations between high sugar intake and breast cancer risk. This study looked at the direct effect of sugar on breast cancer growth and metastasis in mice. While researchers observed that sugar increased tumor growth and metastasis, more work needs to be done to see if this finding is relevant in humans. It is important to remember, the overall health benefits of limiting sugar intake remain undisputed. (02/02/16)

Relevance: Medium

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Human Research

Research Timeline

Study: Potential genetic basis for breast cancer survivors who develop therapy-related leukemia

Most relevant for: Breast cancer patients who have an inherited mutation and breast cancer patients who developed leukemia after treatment for breast cancer.

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)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Post Approval

Research Timeline

Study: Does lumpectomy or mastectomy provide better survival for women with early stage breast cancer?

Most relevant for: Women with early stage breast cancer

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)

Relevance: Medium

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Lab Research

Research Timeline

Study: Do parabens in personal care products increase breast cancer risk?

Most relevant for: Women who use personal care products that contain parabens.

Parabens are chemicals that can mimic the hormone estrogen in the body. As estrogen has been shown to increase breast cancer risk, some people have asked if parabens found in some cosmetics and shampoos will also increase breast cancer risk. Many studies have shown that parabens in the quantities found in personal care products are safe. A recent study of human breast cancer cells suggests that in certain conditions, parabens could help some breast cancer cells grow. It is important to remember that this is early research; this single laboratory-based study does not conclusively prove that parabens are dangerous. More work, including human studies, needs to be done to understand if parabens increase cancer risk. (01/16/2016)

Relevance: Low

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Animal Studies

Research Timeline

Study: Study uses mice and brains from deceased Alzheimer’s patients to assess BRCA1 involvement

Most relevant for: This research is not relevant to people

Researchers noted reduced levels of BRCA1 protein in the brains of mice and deceased Alzheimer's patients. While this study is interesting early work on the biology of Alzheimer's disease, the focus was primarily Alzheimer's disease, rather than the effect of BRCA1 mutations on Alzheimer's. Therefore, this study's observation may be something that is seen in Alzheimer's patients, but does not necessarily cause the disease. No studies suggest that BRCA1 mutation carriers are at increased risk for Alzheimer's disease. (12/22/2015)

Relevance: Medium

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Human Research

Research Timeline

Study: How many children with cancer have mutations in genes that increase cancer risk?

Most relevant for: Survivors of childhood cancer and people with a family history of relatives diagnosed with childhood cancers

Many genes are associated with increased cancer risk in adults, but it is unclear how common these mutations are in children with cancer. This study found that about 9% of children with cancer carry mutations in a gene that is known to increase cancer risk. Over half of the mutations were in the TP53 gene, which is associated with increased cancer risk at a young age and increased risk of breast cancer in adults. (12/15/2015)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

Strength of Science

Study: Effects of cancer diagnosis and treatment during pregnancy on the health and development of the child

Most relevant for: Women who were diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant

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)

Relevance: Low

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Animal Studies

Research Timeline

Study: Do antioxidants encourage the spread of cancer cells?

Most relevant for: The clinical relevance of this study for people is not clear

Scientists do not yet know why some cancers spread to other parts of the body (a process called metastasis). A study in mice suggested that high doses of some antioxidants (chemicals that can protect cells from damage) might actually make it easier for cancer cells to spread. (12/01/2015)

Relevance: Medium

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Human Research

Research Timeline

Study: Aerobic exercise lowers estrogen levels in premenopausal women at high risk for breast cancer

Most relevant for: High risk women with a BRCA mutation or a close relative with a BRCA mutation

Many treatments that lower estrogen levels also reduce breast cancer risk. Unfortunately, these treatments are also associated with negative side effects. A recent study looked at the effect of regular aerobic exercise on the estrogen levels of women who are at high risk for breast cancer. (11/14/2015)

Relevance: Medium

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-Low

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Human Research

Research Timeline

Study: Breastfeeding may reduce hormone receptor negative breast cancer risk

Most relevant for: Women who are pregnant or have just given birth and are deciding about breastfeeding

Previous studies have shown that women who breastfeed have a reduced breast cancer risk. This study examines this association in the different breast cancer subtypes (ER, PR, HER2 negative/positive) and finds that breastfeeding is associated with a reduced risk of ER-/PR- breast cancer. (11/16/2015)

Relevance: Low

Relevance

Quality of Writing: Low

Quality of Writing

Article: What “The Truth About Cancer” got wrong about BRCA mutations and cancer

Most relevant for:

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)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium

Strength of Science

Study: Impact of familial breast cancer risk on young girls

Most relevant for: Young women and girls from high-risk breast cancer families

Does growing up in a family that is at high risk for breast cancer affect young girls? Recent research found girls from families with BRCA mutations and/or a strong family history of cancer to be as well adjusted as peers of the same age. The one difference was that girls from families facing breast cancer risk had more stress related to breast cancer than their peers. While these findings are reassuring, parents know their children best, and they should ask for help if they believe their daughters are not coping well. (11/03/2015)

Relevance: Medium

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Human Research

Research Timeline

Study: New research may lead to a blood test that detects breast cancer recurrence earlier

Most relevant for: People diagnosed with early stage breast cancer

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)

Note: THIS INFORMATION HAS BEEN UPDATED on 11/07/19 with newly-published data. See our updated article: A new blood test may help predict early-stage breast cancer patients at highest risk for recurrence.

 

Relevance: Medium

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium

Strength of Science

Study: Are more men with breast cancer opting for prophylactic mastectomy?

Most relevant for: Men diagnosed with breast cancer

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)

Relevance: High

Relevance

Strength of Science: High

Strength of Science

Research Timeline: Post Approval

Research Timeline

Study: BRCA mutations more common than expected in young black women with breast cancer

Most relevant for: Young black women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer

Most estimates of the percentage of breast cancer patients with mutations in BRCA are based on studies in white women. These researchers found that black women diagnosed at a young age with breast were twice as likely to have a BRCA mutation than previously reported based on studies in white women with breast cancer diagnosed in the same age categories. This study shows how important it is for all black women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer at or before age 50 to be referred for genetic counseling and testing. (9/29/15)

Relevance: Medium-Low

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-Low

Strength of Science

Study: Prenatal exposure to the pesticide DDT and breast cancer risk

Most relevant for: Women with prenatal exposure to DDT, women in countries where DDT is used

This study found an association between prenatal exposure to the pesticide DDT, and an increased risk of women developing breast cancer. While this study does not prove that DDT exposure directly causes breast cancer, it serves as a reminder that pregnant women's exposure to toxic environmental agents can affect their children's risk for disease later in life.

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: High

Strength of Science

Study: All DCIS is not the same: Young women and African American women at higher risk after DCIS diagnosis

Most relevant for: Women diagnosed with DCIS

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 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)

Relevance: Medium-High

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium-High

Strength of Science

Study: Weight gain associated with breast cancer survivorship

Most relevant for: Women diagnosed with early stage (1-3) breast cancer

Weight gain in breast cancer survivors can affect survival and quality-of-life. This study found that breast cancer survivors are more likely to gain weight than women of the same age who are at high risk, but have never been diagnosed with cancer. The study looked at which groups of survivors were more likely to gain weight. (8/24/15)

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