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: 42 results

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Relevance: High

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Strength of Science: Medium-High

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Study: Racial and ethnic differences in genetic testing among young breast cancer survivors

Most relevant for: Women diagnosed with breast cancer at age 50 or younger

Genetic testing is recommended for most women who are diagnosed with breast cancer at age 50 or younger.  In this study of young women with breast cancer, while the rates of genetic testing  did not differ, the rates of women testing positive for an inherited mutation associated with breast cancer did vary between racial and ethnic groups. (2/27/20)

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: Cancer risk associated with inherited mutations in Lynch syndrome genes

Most relevant for: People with Lynch syndrome mutations

Lynch syndrome is the most common inherited cause of cancer affecting about 1 in 300 people. People with Lynch syndrome have an increased risk of colorectal endometrial and other cancers. A large study followed people with mutations in the Lynch syndrome genes MLH1, MSH2, MSH6 and PMS2 to determine the risk of other types of cancer. (2/21/20)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Strength of Science: Medium-Low

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Study: Do hair dyes or straighteners increase breast cancer risk?

Most relevant for: young women who use hair dye or straighteners

Many women use products to color or straighten their hair. A large U.S. study linked the use of permanent hair dye and straighteners to increased breast cancer risk, particularly among black women. This XRAY reviews the limitations of this study and highlights the need for additional research before accepting these conclusions. (1/29/20)

Relevance: High

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Strength of Science: High

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Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Study: Women who exercise have lower breast cancer risk whether or not they have a family history of breast cancer

Most relevant for: Young, high risk women

The effect of physical activity on breast cancer risk was looked at  in a study of over 15,000 women. The results suggest that exercise lowers breast cancer risk regardless of family  history of breast cancer or menopausal status.  (12/6/19)

Relevance: High

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Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Update: Genetic causes of hereditary pancreatic cancer: BRCA and beyond

Most relevant for: People diagnosed with pancreatic cancer

An update on hereditary pancreatic cancer presented at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting covered genes and lifetime risk. The update emphasized that all pancreatic cancer patients should be offered genetic counseling and testing. Genetic test results may impact treatment, screening for other cancers and risk to family members. (11/26/19)

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: 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

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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: High

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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: Medium-High

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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

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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: Medium-High

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Strength of Science: Medium-High

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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

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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

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Strength of Science: Medium-High

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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

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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

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Strength of Science: Low

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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: High

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Quality of Writing: High

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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: Medium-High

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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

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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

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Strength of Science: High

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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

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Quality of Writing: Medium-Low

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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

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Strength of Science: Medium

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Research Timeline: Human Research

Research Timeline

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

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Quality of Writing: High

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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

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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

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Strength of Science: Medium

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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-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: 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-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

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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-Low

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Strength of Science: Medium-Low

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Research Timeline: Animal Studies

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Article: Report on vaccines to prevent hereditary cancer

Most relevant for: High risk women who have not had breast cancer

On 05/30/2017, Good Morning America aired a segment entitled “Can a vaccine help prevent breast cancer at its earliest stages?” The story outlines the need for cancer prevention and hints at early research into a cancer vaccine. (8/1/17)

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

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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-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: Medium-High

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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

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Quality of Writing: Medium-Low

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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

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Strength of Science: Medium-High

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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

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Strength of Science: Medium

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Research Timeline: Human Research

Research Timeline

Study: Early research on a drug to prevent breast cancer

Most relevant for: Women with a BRCA1 mutation

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)

Update added 11/24/19: The RANK ligand inhibitor, denosumab is currently being studied as a possible breast and ovarian cancer preventive agent in human clinical trials.

Relevance: Medium

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Strength of Science: Medium

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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

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Strength of Science: Medium

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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-High

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Strength of Science: Medium-High

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Research Timeline: Human Research

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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

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Strength of Science: Medium

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Research Timeline: Human Research

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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

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Strength of Science: Medium-Low

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Research Timeline: Human Research

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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)

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