Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Breast Cancer News Update: July 5

Today in breast cancer news, there are studies about the long-term impact of BRCA1/2 testing, surgery for metastatic cancer and personalized screening mammogram guidelines.

BRCA1/2 testing "likely to have a favorable effect" on breast cancer outcomes

Women with a family history of breast cancer often wonder if they should undergo BRCA1/2 gene testing to evaluate their personal risk of breast cancer. A June 29 study published in Cancer looked, long-term, at the actions taken by women who were tested. At an average of 5.3 years after testing, more than 80% of the carriers had chosen prophylactic mastectomy, ovary removal (oophorectomy) or both, suggesting that the testing "is likely to have a favorable effect on breast and ovarian cancer outcomes."

Surgery does not improve survival for stage IV breast cancer

Standard treatment for stage IV breast cancer involves systemic therapy, such as chemotherapy, but not surgery to remove the breast tumor. There has been some suggestion that removing the primary tumor may improve overall survival. A study in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, which can be found on our breast conserving surgery (lumpectomy) page, compared a group of 236 patients who did not receive surgery to 54 patients who had. When patients were matched for the various cancer types, "surgery was not shown to improve survival."

Study suggests personalized screening mammography guidelines

Lately, there's been a lot of activity on the LATESTBreastCancer.com screening mammography page. The controversy involves when to start and how often a woman should have a screening mammogram. Today, the Los Angeles Times reported on a new study which suggests a more individualized approach. Instead of a "one-size-fits-all" guideline, the study presents a method for personalizing a screening schedule based on breast density and other risk factors. Under the proposed plan, a baseline mammogram at age 40 would be used to craft an individual screening schedule. As wise as this plan appears, practically speaking, it is uncertain if doctors are currently willing or able to invest the deliberation needed. A change in approach may not materialize until formal guidelines are altered.

Please check back tomorrow for more updates. Until then, all the latest news and research on any treatment option may be found on the LATESTBreastCancer.com at any time.

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