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: 72 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

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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-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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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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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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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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Strength of Science: High

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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: High

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Strength of Science: High

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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

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Strength of Science: Medium-High

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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

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Strength of Science: Medium

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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

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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-High

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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: 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

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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: Medium-High

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Strength of Science: Medium-High

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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

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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

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Research Timeline: Post Approval

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Update: 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

Genetic testing for health conditions (such as risk for cancer) typically requires a prescription from a doctor. Until recently, direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing has focused on tests to learn your ancestry and find 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 warns people about the limitations of the 23andMe test. (03/19/18)

Relevance: Medium-High

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Quality of Writing: Medium

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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: 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-High

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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-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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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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Quality of Writing: High

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Article: Preimplantation genetic diagnosis and hereditary cancer

Most relevant for:

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)

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-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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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-High

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Strength of Science: Medium

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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-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: 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)

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: High

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Strength of Science: Medium-High

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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

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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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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-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-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)

Relevance: Medium

Relevance

Strength of Science: Medium

Strength of Science

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

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

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

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: High

Strength of Science

Study: BRCA testing in young women with breast cancer

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

National guidelines recommend genetic testing for BRCA mutations in young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. However, little is known about how women decide to get testing, or how they use genetic information to decide on treatment options. This study found that genetic testing is increasing among young breast cancer survivors, and it explores some of the factors that play into patients’ decision making about genetic testing. (3/22/16)

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: 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-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

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

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)

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