Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Breast Cancer News Update: June 1

Today in breast cancer news, there were two studies about beta-blocker use and an overview of the chemotherapy side-effect neutropenia.

Beta-blocker use associated with breast cancer survival

Late yesterday, Reuters Health covered two Journal of Clinical Oncology studies which found an association between beta-blocker use and breast cancer survival.

In the first study, from MD Anderson, breast cancer patients who took beta-blockers, mainly metoprolol and atenolol, seemed to "fare better." Even though there were no differences in the tumors after surgery, three years later, 87 percent of the women on beta-blockers were alive and cancer free, compared to 77 percent women not on beta-blockers. The findings were "even more striking" for women with triple-negative breast cancer.

The second study, from Ireland, found that women who took the beta-blocker propranolol in the year before diagnosis were less likely to present with advanced breast cancer and had a "significantly lower" risk of mortality than those who took no beta-blockers. However, the use of the beta-blocker atenolol did not appear to confer similar benefits.

Although beta-blockers are inexpensive and readily available, both of these studies are considered early. Further research is needed to identify or confirm a causal relationship.

Neutropenia from chemotherapy

Today, Cure Today published an overview of chemotherapy side-effect neutropenia, or low white blood cell count. Because neutropenia results in a compromised immune system, the article recommended that patients "take precautions to prevent infections," such as washing hands, avoiding crowds, sick people and raw or uncooked foods. Medications such as granulocyte colony stimulating factors (G-CSFs) and antibiotics were also addressed. The latest news and research on Neulasta (pegfilgrastim) and Neupogen (filgrastim), two forms of G-CSFs, can be found on our website,

Please check back tomorrow for more daily breast cancer news updates.

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