Monday, June 20, 2011

The Breast Cancer News Update: June 21

Today in breast cancer news, we'll look at a potential new treatment for lymphedema, two stories about breast cancer risk and the use of OncotypeDX in the UK.

Potential new surgery to treat lymphedema

Lymphedema can be an uncomfortable side-effect of axillary lymph node dissection. According to a story in the New York Times, a randomized trial of an experimental surgical procedure to treat lymhpedema is being launched. The procedure, called autologous vascularized lymph node transfer, involves clearing scar tissue and transferring a lymph node from another location. Half of the patients in the study will receive the lymph node transfer. The other half will undergo a "dummy surgical procedure." Patient progress will be followed for two years. To date, the few patients who have been treated with the surgery have experienced improvement. Hopefully, the randomized trial will confirm these results.

BREVAGen risk assessment test launched in the US

BREVAGen, a new breast cancer genetic risk assessment test has been launched in the US. The assessment uses a cheek-swab genetic analysis and individual risk factors to predict 5-year and lifetime breast cancer risk. According to the press release, women's health clinics will begin using the BREVAGen test in the coming months.

Childhood body size may affect breast cancer risk

Typically, higher body mass is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. The opposite may be true when it comes to childhood body size. An NBC News affiliate reported that a recent Swedish Breast Cancer Research study discovered that a "large body size" at age seven was associated with a 27 percent reduction in risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. The researchers concluded that women who had a larger body size at age seven may have a "decreased risk of developing postmenopausal breast cancer." Body size at age seven may be "a useful contribution" to estimating breast cancer risk.

OncotypeDX use in the UK

An interesting story in The Telegraph (UK) discussed the use of the OncotypeDX test in the UK. OncotypeDX is a genetic assay that predicts the risk of recurrence to determine whether an early-stage patient with estrogen receptor positive cancer would benefit from chemotherapy. It is used "extensively" in the US, but is only available privately in the UK at a cost of about $4,000 US Dollars. The UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence is expected to reach a decision about the use of OncotypeDX in the NHS late next year.

Please check back Wednesday for more news and research updates from

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