XRAYS - Making Sense of Cancer Headlines

FORCE’s eXamining the Relevance of Articles for Young Survivors (XRAYS) program is a reliable resource for breast cancer research-related news and information. XRAYS reviews new breast cancer research, provides plain-language summaries, and rates how the media covered the topic. XRAYS is funded by the CDC.

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Pregnancy & Fertility

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

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

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STUDY: Diagnosis and treatment delays in young women 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)

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

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)

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STUDY: Breast cancer risk increases modestly after childbirth

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)

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STUDY: Childbearing after breast cancer among young survivors

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)

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

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

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ARTICLE: Coping with the financial burden of breast cancer

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

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STUDY: Birth control and breast cancer risk among younger women

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)

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ARTICLE: Preimplantation genetic diagnosis and hereditary cancer

Andrew Joseph’s piece for STAT, “A baby with a disease gene or no baby at all: Genetic testing of embryos creates an ethical morass,” focuses on  preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and the emerging ethical issue in the field of reproductive medicine: What to do when patients seeking to get pregnant select embryos with DNA that could lead to a disease or a disability.  (11/8/17)

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

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)

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

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)

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STUDY: Do BRCA mutations affect fertility?

Age affects fertility. As women age, their ovaries release eggs that are not as healthy as those released in younger women, and in general, fewer eggs each menstrual cycle, making it harder for older women to become pregnant. Are BRCA mutation carriers less fertile? Previous research suggested that BRCA mutations might affect women's fertility. 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)

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

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)

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STUDY: Breastfeeding may reduce hormone receptor negative breast cancer risk

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)

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

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.

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