Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Genetic Research, Journal Clinical Oncology / 23.12.2015 Interview with: Dr. Marjanka Schmidt PhD Group Leader, Molecular Pathology Netherlands Cancer Institute Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Schmidt: BRCA1/2 mutation carriers who developed a primary breast cancer are thought to be at high risk to develop a contralateral breast cancer (breast cancer in the opposite breast). Our study is one of the first to provide unbiased risk estimates for young breast cancer patients with a pathogenic BRCA1/2 mutation. We also showed that age of onset of the first breast cancer is a predictor for the development of contralateral breast cancer in BRCA1/2 mutation carriers, but not in non-carriers. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Cancer Research, Dental Research, Smoking / 21.12.2015 Interview with: Jo Freudenheim, PhD UB Distinguished Professor and Interim Chair Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health School of Public Health and Health Professions University at Buffalo Buffalo, NY Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Freudenheim: There have been a number of studies that have shown an association between periodontal disease and chronic diseases, particularly stroke and heart attacks. There is also some newer evidence that periodontal disease is associated with cancer, particularly cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. Ours is the first large prospective study of periodontal disease and breast cancer. This was part of a study of more than 70,000 postmenopausal women from throughout the United States, the Women’s Health Initiative. Women provided information about their health and other related factors and then those women were followed to see who developed certain diseases. We found that women who had been told that they had periodontal disease were more likely to develop breast cancer. In particular, women who were former smokers (quit within the last 20 years) and who had periodontal disease were at increased breast cancer risk. There was a similar increase in risk for current smokers with periodontal disease but it was not statistically significant. (There was a relatively small number of current smokers in the WHI study.) (more…)
Aging, Author Interviews, Breast Cancer / 16.12.2015 Interview with: Susan K. Boolbol, MD, FACS Chief, Division of Breast Surgery Chief, Appel-Venet Comprehensive Breast Service Co-Director, Breast Surgery Fellowship Mount Sinai Beth Israel Associate Professor of Surgery Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai New York, NY 10003  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr.Boolbol:  The background for this study is predicated on the USPSTF's recommendations that there is insufficient evidence to continue the use of screening mammography in women over the age of 75. According to the American College of Radiology, cancer detection rates via screening mammography should be at least 2.5 per 1000 mammograms at an institution, with reported rates as high as 4.7 cases per 1000. We reviewed 2057 screening mammograms in women aged 75 and older. We found 10 cases of breast cancer in this group. Of these cancers, 60% were invasive breast cancer. The breast cancer detection rate in this cohort was 4.9 per 1000 screening mammograms. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Chemotherapy, University Texas / 14.12.2015 Interview with: Mariana Chavez Mac Gregor, MD, MSC Assistant Professor Breast Medical Oncology Department Health Services Research Department The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Chavez Mac Gregor: Adjuvant chemotherapy has proven to significantly decrease the risk of recurrence among breast cancer patients, however the optimal time to start adjuvant chemotherpay remains unknown. There are biological resasons to believe that a delay in the initiation of systemic therapy can be associated with adverse outcomes. In this large study we evaluated the impact of a delay in the initiation of time to chemotherapy (TTC).  We analyzed data from 24,843 patients with invasive breast cancer (stages I to III) from the California Cancer Registry and observed that compared with patients who received chemotherapy within 31 days of surgery,  no adverse outcomes were associated with time to chemotherapy of 31 to 90 days of surgery. However, there was  a 34 % increase in the risk of death and a 27% increase in the risk of breast cancer specific death  among patients who started  chemotherapy 91 or more days after surgery. In a stratified analysis according to breast cancer subtype, patients with triple-negative breast cancer, a TTC greater than 91 days  was  significantly  associated with worse overall and breast cancer-specific survival. In addition we evaluated factors associated with delays in  time to chemotherapy (defined as > or = 91 days) and observed that many of the factors are sociodemographic in nature including low socioeconomic status, non-private insurance, and being Hispanic or African American. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Surgical Research, Yale / 11.12.2015 Interview with: Anees B. Chagpar, MD, MSc, MPH, MA, MBA, FRCS(C), FACS Associate Professor, Department of Surgery Director, The Breast Center Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven Assistant Director -- Global Oncology Yale Comprehensive Cancer Center Yale University School of Medicine Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Chagpar: Up to 40% of women undergoing breast conserving surgery for breast cancer will have to return to the operating room due to positive margins (or cancer cells being found at the edge of what was removed at the initial surgery).  We recently reported the results of a randomized controlled trial, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, in which we found that taking a little more tissue circumferentially around the cavity (called shave margins) at the time of the initial surgery could cut the need for re-excisions (or return trips to the operating room) in half.  In this analysis, we evaluate the implications of this technique on costs. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Chagpar: We found that taking additional tissue added 10 minutes to the initial operative time.  While taking cavity shave margins resulted in higher costs associated with the initial surgery due to increased OR time and additional tissue requiring pathologic evaluation, this is offset by the significant reduction in the need for re-excisions.  From a payer perspective, costs including facility and provider fees for the index surgery as well as any breast surgery care in the ensuing 90 days was roughly $750 less for patients who had shave margins taken than for those who did not, although this did not reach statistical significance. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Chemotherapy / 10.12.2015 Interview with: Sam Smith, PhD CPsychol Cancer Research UK Postdoctoral Fellow Centre for Cancer Prevention Queen Mary University of London Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine London Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Smith:  Several trials have demonstrated that agents (e.g. tamoxifen) can be used to prevent breast cancer among women at increased risk. However, their effectiveness is dependent upon their appropriate use by this patient group. Several studies have suggested that uptake is low, and that women are not taking the medications for the full 5 year course. We attempted to synthesize the evidence investigating these topics, as well as identify the factors affecting these behaviours. The main findings are that only 1 in 6 women (16.3%) were willing to start taking oral medications to prevent breast cancer. Furthermore, uptake rates were lower in routine clinical practice (9%) compared with trial enrollment rates (25%), suggesting that there may be problems with implementing chemoprevention within routine clinical care. We noted that day to day adherence and persistence over a short period (e.g. 1 year) was adequate, but when looking at the longer term studies only 1 in 10 reported that >80% of women were still taking their medications at the 5 year end point. Women may not be experiencing the full preventive effect of these medications. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Chemotherapy, Immunotherapy / 09.12.2015 Interview with: Professor Michael Gnant, M.D., FASC Director and Chairman Department of Surgery President, Austrian Breast&Colorectal Cancer Study Group Head, Breast Health Center Vienna Comprehensive Cancer Center Vienna Medical University of Vienna - Department of Surgery Austria Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The background of this presentation is as follows: For many years, we have seen intriguing - but also sometimes conflicting - results of trials using adjuvant bone-targeted therapy. ABCSG-18 is a placebo-controlled trial of adjuvant denosumab 60mg twice yearly, and I have been able to present to you at this year’s ASCO meeting the dramatic reduction in clinical fractures which was the primary end point of the trial. We have also showed that twice yearly denosumab can be administered without added toxicity in this double-blind placebo-controlled trial. These results were as well published in the Lancet earlier this year. The obvious question remaining now is whether adjuvant treatment with the anti-RANK ligand antibody also improves outcomes in a way similar to what bisphosphonates do. Main findings of ABCSG-18: disease-free survival results of the intention-to-treat analysis: In the placebo group, we observed 203 DFS events. In the denosumab group, there were 167 DFS events, resulting in a hazard ratio of 0.816, indicating an 18% relative DFS improvement by denosumab. In terms of absolute differences, the benefit was 1.2% at 3 years, 2.1% at 5 years, and 3.1% at 7 years. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Cancer, Genetic Research / 07.12.2015 Interview with: Dr. Jane E. Churpek, MD Assistant Professor of Medicine Co-Director, Comprehensive Cancer Risk and Prevention Program The University of Chicago Medicine Chicago, IL 6063 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Churpek:   We designed this study to try to understand whether damaging, inherited changes in genes known to cause an increased risk of breast cancer are common in those who develop leukemia after getting chemotherapy and/or radiation for treatment of breast cancer. Leukemias that occur in this setting are called “therapy-related.” This means that chemotherapy or radiation, or both, may have been involved in causing the leukemia.  This is an uncommon but serious complication of cancer treatment, and the factors that put women at risk for this complication are not well understood. We looked at the clinical histories of 88 such women. We found that most of them have relatives who also had cancer, suggesting they may be cancer-prone to begin with. Because we did not have a group of women who had similar breast cancer treatment and who did not get a therapy-related leukemia, we cannot definitively prove that more women with therapy-related leukemia than expected had these mutations. However, this study gives us reason to further study the role of these genes in therapy-related leukemia. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Mental Health Research / 05.12.2015 Interview with: Dr. Jamie Stagl, PhD Was a Ph.D. student in Psychology at University of Miami during the research period Currently, a post-doctoral fellow in Psychiatric Oncology Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Boston Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Stagl: This is a newly published finding from a randomized trial funded by the National Cancer Institute that showed that women with breast cancer who received stress management skills early on in their treatment had longer survival and longer time without breast cancer recurrence at eight to 15 years after their initial diagnosis. This secondary analysis is published online and in the November 2015 issue of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment. The study was conducted by senior investigator, Michael Antoni, Ph.D., Survivorship Theme Leader of the Cancer Control research program at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and his research team, including lead author Jamie Stagl, Ph.D., currently a postdoctoral fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Psychiatric Oncology and Behavioral Sciences. In this trial, women received an intervention called Cognitive-Behavioral Stress Management, which was created by Dr. Michael Antoni at the University of Miami. After surgery for breast cancer, women received 10 weekly, group-based sessions of skills to manage stress based in cognitive-behavioral strategies and relaxation training. Women learned muscle relaxation, mindfulness meditation, and breathing exercises to promote relaxation. Women also learned strategies for altering negative thoughts, worries, and improve coping. Previous studies by Dr. Antoni and his research team have shown that women who received these stress management skills had better psychological adjustment, less distress, and less anxiety through treatment. Dr. Stagl recently published findings showing that these women had less depressive symptoms and better quality of life during survivorship. The current study shows that these women may also benefit from stress management in terms of risk of disease progression and mortality. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Lancet, Mammograms, Radiology / 05.12.2015 Interview with: Prof Stephen Duffy BSc MSc CStat Professor Of Cancer Screening Wolfson Institute Of Preventive Medicine Queen Mary University of London Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Prof. Duffy: There is debate on the value of diagnosing and treating ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) of the breast, depending mainly on different theories about the risk of progression to invasive breast cancer if DCIS were untreated. No-one asserts that no DCIS is progressive and no-one asserts that all DCIS is progressive. There is, however, a range of opinions on the proportion of progressive disease. We found that those mammography screening units in the UK with higher detection rates of DCIS had lower subsequent rates of invasive cancers in the three years after screening. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMC, BMJ, Genetic Research / 03.12.2015 Interview with: Hatem A. Azim MD PhD Breast Cancer Translational Research Laboratory Institut Jules Bordet Université Libre de Bruxelles Brussels, Belgium Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Azim: As at breast cancer diagnosis is known to impact prognosis, with young patients having worse outcome. On the other hand, elderly patients are less studies in general and little is known on their tumor characteristics. In this study, we aimed to define the pattern of genomic aberrations in different age groups. This can result in identifying if key potentially targetable genomic alterations are more specific to particular age groups and thus could open the door to design particular studies targeting these aberrations in these age groups. We found that  age is associated with unique biological features at the DNA level, independent of tumor stage, histology and breast cancer molecular subtype. Of particular mention, the higher prevalence of GATA3 mutation in younger patient, a known driver mutation associated with endocrine resistance. In addition, age at diagnosis appears to impact the tumor transcriptome confirming previous observations, but also highlighting novel findings, of particular relevance the higher expression of stem cell related genes in young patients. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Depression, JNCI, Kaiser Permanente / 03.12.2015 Interview with: Reina Haque, PhD, MPH Research scientist Department of Research & Evaluation Kaiser Permanente Southern California Pasadena Calif Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Haque: Tamoxifen is a commonly prescribed generic drug taken by women with breast cancer to reduce their chances of developing a recurrence. Tamoxifen is recommended for five years, but has notable side effects, including hot flashes, night sweats and depression. Since hormone replacement therapy is not recommended to alleviate these symptoms in breast-cancer survivors, antidepressants have been increasingly prescribed for relief. Almost half of the 2.4 million breast-cancer survivors in the U.S. take antidepressants. However, previous studies have suggested that antidepressants reduce tamoxifen's effectiveness in lowering subsequent breast-cancer risk. This study was conducted to determine whether taking tamoxifen and antidepressants (in particular, paroxetine) concomitantly is associated with an increased risk of recurrence or contralateral breast cancer. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Journal Clinical Oncology, MRI, Yale / 02.12.2015 Interview with: Shiyi Wang, MD, PhD Assistant Professor of Epidemiology (Chronic Diseases) Yale School of Public Health Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Wang: As magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the breast has become part of medical care, there is increasing concern that this highly sensitive test might identify health problems that otherwise would not have had an impact on the patient – so called “overdiagnosis”. However, even if MRI use leads to overdiagnosis, the main “theoretical” benefit of early detection by MRI is to prevent future advanced diseases, the prognosis of which is deleterious. A systematic literature review found that, compared to mammography and/or ultrasound, MRI had a 4.1% incremental contralateral breast cancer (breast cancer in the opposite breast) detection rate. At this point, the impact of MRI on long-term contralateral breast cancer outcomes remains unclear.  Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Wang: Analyzing the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare dataset, we compared two groups of women who had breast cancer (one group receiving an MRI, and the other not) in terms of stage-specific contralateral breast cancer occurrences. We found that after five years, the MRI group had a higher detection rate of cancer in the opposite breast than the non-MRI group (7.2 % vs. 4.0%). Specifically, MRI use approximately doubles the detection rate of early stage contralateral breast cancer, but does not decrease the incidence of advanced stage contralateral breast cancer occurrences after a 5-year follow-up. Our results indicate that nearly half of additional breast cancers detected by the preoperative MRI were overdiagnosed, which means that many of these occult cancers not detected by MRI would not have become clinically evident over the subsequent 5 years. There was no evidence that MRI use was benefiting women because the rate of advanced cancer was similar in the MRI and the non-MRI groups. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, JAMA, Surgical Research / 28.11.2015 Interview with: Katharine Yao, MD Director, Breast Surgical Program NorthShore University HealthSystem Illinois Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Yao: A survey of breast surgeons was conducted to determine their knowledge level with contralateral breast cancer and how contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM) affects survival.  Of five knowledge questions, only 60% scored with high knowledge (4 or 5 questions correct) scores.   Surgeons mostly scored low on contralateral cancer risks.  Most surgeons correctly stated that contralateral prophylactic mastectomy  does not provide a survival benefit.  Nonetheless, our knowledge questions did not address other important issues about CPM such as operative complications, or contralateral breast cancer risks for other high risk subgroups.  Higher knowledge was associated with fellowship training and duration of practice. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Nature / 23.11.2015 Interview with: Paul K Newton PhD Professor of Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering, Mathematics, and Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center USC Viterbi University of Southern California University Park Campus Los Angeles, CA  90089-4012  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Newton: We obtained a longitudinal data set of 446 breast cancer patients from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, tracked from 1975 to 2009. All of the patients had primary breast cancer at the time they entered, with no metastatic tumors. All subsequently developed metastatic breast cancer. From this time-resolved data set, we first developed what we called tree-ring diagrams showing the full spatiotemporal patterns of progression. We then used this information to develop a Markov chain dynamical model of metastatic breast cancer. This is a model based on the concept that where the disease currently is located strongly influences where it will spread next. The systemic nature of metastatic breast cancer is clearly shown in these kinds of network based models. The main findings are that survival depends very strongly on where the first metastatic tumor develops. For example, if the first metastatic tumor appears in the bone, as happens in roughly 35% of the patients, survival is much better than if it appears in the brain (less than 5% of the patients). Furthermore, for those patients with a first met to the bone, survival is far better for those who develop their next met in the lung area, as compared with those that develop it in the liver. Metastatic sites are categorized as `spreader’ sites, or `sponge’ sites. Bone and chest wall are generally the primary spreader sites of metastatic breast cancer, dynamically involved in spreading the disease throughout the metastatic process. On the other hand, liver seems to be a key sponge site, where circulating tumor cells most likely accumulate. If one were to focus on an active therapeutic program targeting metastatic sites, most likely the spreader sites would give the most bang-for-buck in terms of survival. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Chemotherapy, MRI / 14.11.2015 Interview with: Dr. Franca Podo, Dr Sci Former Director of the Molecular and Cellular Imaging Unit Department of Cell Biology and Neurosciences Istituto Superiore di Sanità Rome, Italy Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Podo: Population-based studies showed that triple negative breast cancers (TNBCs), i.e. those which are negative for estrogen and progesterone receptors without HER-2/neu overexpression, have a more aggressive clinical course and a 2-to-3 fold higher likelihood of distant recurrence and death from breast cancer within 5 years from diagnosis, compared with non-TNBCs. In a study published in Clinical Cancer Research (Online First 26 October 2015) Dr. F. Podo and Dr. F. Santoro (Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome) and Prof. F. Sardanelli (Università degli Studi di Milano, IRCCS Policlinico San Donato) in collaboration with other Italian co-authors, compared phenotype features and survival rates of invasive TNBCs versus non-TNBCs detected during the HIBCRIT-1 screening study of 501 asymptomatic women at high genetic-familial risk for breast cancer. The screening included BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers, as well as women with a strong family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer, enrolled between 2000 and 2008 in 18 centers. Data analysis from a median 9.7-year follow-up until June 2015 showed that, combining an annual screening including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with adequate treatment options, the mean 5-year overall survival of triple negative breast cancers was not significantly different from that of non-TNBCs (86% vs 93%), in spite of a 3-fold higher rate of cases of grade 3 invasive ductal carcinoma in the former subgroup (71% in TNBCs vs 23% in non-TNBCs). The mean disease-free survival rates were also very similar (77% vs 76%, respectively). (more…)
AACR, Author Interviews, Breast Cancer / 10.11.2015 Interview with: Aditya Bardia MD, MPH Attending Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Bardia: Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) represents breast cancers that are negative for estrogen and progesterone receptors, as well as human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, or HER2. This type of breast cancer comprises about 15-20% of all invasive breast cancers and is more prevalent in young and African-American women.Triple negative breast cancer characteristically has a high recurrence rate and is perhaps the most difficult type of breast cancer to treat successfully with current cytotoxic agents. Trop-2 is a protein present in limited amounts in normal human tissues but widely found in many human cancers. It is expressed in more than 80 percent of Triple negative breast cancer, making it an attractive therapeutic target. Sacituzumab govitecan (IMMU-132) is a first-in-class ADC developed by Immunomedics, Inc. by linking moderately-toxic drug, SN-38, to an antibody that binds to the Trop-2 target found in many solid cancers. We conducted a clinical trial with this drug for patients with advanced tumors, including patients with TNBC who either had failed their previous treatments for Triple negative breast cancer or their cancer had returned. We have found that even though patients who participated in this trial had very advanced stages of the disease, approximately 30% of these patients responded with 30% or more tumor shrinkage. The response rate to standard agents is usually 10 to 20 percent, while the response rate with IMMU-132 was approximately 30 percent. If you include patients with stable disease, the clinical disease control rate, which is complete response [CR] + partial response [PR] + stable disease, was about 75 percent. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer / 05.11.2015 Interview with: Shirley Mertz President of the US Metastatic Breast Cancer Network (Ms. Mertz has been living with metastatic breast cancer since 2003) Medical Research: What do you mean by the term, "Long Term Responders"? How is this different than "Survivor"? Shirley Mertz: For many years, especially in the month of October in the U.S., the media and breast cancer organizations have written stories and celebrated women who have received an early stage breast cancer diagnosis, gone through treatment and now see breast cancer in their "rear view mirror." For these women (Stage I, II or III disease), treatment has an end and they can get on with their lives. In contrast, for patients diagnosed with Stage IV disease, also called metastatic breast cancer, treatment never ends and they will ultimately succumb to the disease. Long term responders are those metastatic breast cancer patients who have responded well to a treatment--experiencing perhaps a complete remission (not a cure) or stable disease. While that treatment may continue to keep their disease under control for 5 or more years, such patients must continue with treatment. Ultimately, their disease will progress and they will die of the disease. This can be immensely traumatic for the patient and the family if they were failed to be diagnosed by a doctor. If the cancer was found sooner then there would be a better chance of survival. If this has ever happened to you then you may want to contact a failure to diagnose attorney. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Diabetes / 05.11.2015 Interview with: Dr Nicoletta Provinciali, MD Oncologist from the E.O. Ospedali Galliera Genoa, Italy Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Provinciali: We know that higher insulin levels have been associated with a worse prognosis in early breast cancer patients. In this study we wanted to evaluate the impact of insulin resistance on metastatic breast cancer patients receiving first line chemotherapy. We found that insulin resistance status together with the endocrine status had an adverse prognostic effect. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Cancer Research, Chemotherapy, Cognitive Issues / 03.11.2015 Interview with: Kelly N. H. Nudelman, Ph.D. Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) Indianapolis, IN 46202 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Nudelman: Varying levels of cognitive problems and related changes in brain structure and function have been reported in breast cancer patients treated with chemotherapy. Pain has also been associated with altered brain structure and function. However, the association of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), a side-effect of chemotherapy treatment characterized by nerve damage primarily in the extremities, has not been specifically investigated for association with cognitive symptoms in breast cancer. We used data from a prospective, longitudinal breast cancer cohort to investigate the relationship of CIPN and neuroimaging measures of cognitive dysfunction.  Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Nudelman: We found that increased chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy symptoms were associated with resting brain blood flow increase in regions known to be involved in pain processing. We also found that decreased frontal lobe gray matter density was correlated with these changes, suggesting a link between chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy and cognitive dysfunction. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Technology / 31.10.2015 Interview with: Anuradha Godavarty PhD and Dr. Sarah J Erickson-Bhatt PhD Dept of Biomedical Engineering, Florida International University Miami, FL Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: It is well known that early detection and staging of breast cancer is crucial in order to save lives. While the current gold standard for breast cancer screening is x-ray mammography, this method still misses many cancers especially in younger women with denser tissue. Our group and others have explored diffuse optical tomography using near-infrared light to image breast tumors. We have developed a unique optical imager with a hand-held probe that can contour to breast curvature in order to image the tissue without painful compression and without ionizing radiation (like x-rays). This study demonstrated the ability of the device to detect lesions in breast cancer patients due to elevated levels of total hemoglobin concentration in tumor vasculature. The hand-held has a potential to not only image the breast contours, but the probe was flexible to image the surrounding chest wall regions, thus expanding its application to image lymphatic spread as well. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer / 28.10.2015 Interview with: Dr. Paolo Boffetta, MD, MPH Professor, Medicine, Hematology and Medical Oncology, Oncological Services, Preventive Medicine, Associate Director, Population Sciences Tish Cancer Institute, Chief, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Boffetta: Evidence of a protective effect of breastfeeding on breast cancer risk is becoming stronger; hence the need for a systematic review and meta-analysis. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Boffetta: Breastfeeding appears to be protective against breast cancer, in particular the most aggressive forms (hormone receptor negative and in particular ‘triple negative’). (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, NYU, Surgical Research / 26.10.2015

Mihye Choi, M.D., F.A.C.S. Associate Professor of Surgery NYU Plastic Surgery NYU Langone Medical Interview with: Mihye Choi, M.D., F.A.C.S. Associate Professor of Surgery NYU Plastic Surgery NYU Langone Medical Center Medical Research: Would you tell us a little about yourself and your interests in plastic surgery? Dr. Choi: I wanted to be a surgeon first, then I fell in love with plastic surgery after seeing a cleft lip repair as a medical student.  It was amazing to watch the ingenuity of the design and the skills needed to repair a baby's face.  I felt that it was the highest gift a doctor can bestow, so that a child can go forward with life in confidence and all the promise that life holds.  After finishing plastic surgery training, I developed expertise in breast reconstruction over the years.  I feel breast reconstruction combines the science and art of surgery. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, JAMA, Mammograms, UC Davis / 21.10.2015 Interview with: Diana L. Miglioretti, PhD Dean's Professor in Biostatistics Department of Public Health Sciences UC Davis School of Medicine Davis, CA  95616 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Miglioretti: Screening mammography intervals remain under debate in the United States. The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends biennial (every other year) screening, whereas other organizations recommend annual screening. To help inform their updated screening guidelines, the American Cancer Society guideline development group requested that the US Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium conduct a study comparing cancer outcomes among women screened annually vs. biennially. Prior studies conducted by the consortium used wide intervals for defining annual and biennial mammograms. We wanted to evaluate cancer outcomes for women who more closely adhere to screening intervals. Our goal was to determine if women diagnosed with cancer following biennial screening have tumors with less favorable prognostic characteristics compared to women diagnosed after annual screening. We evaluated outcomes separately by age and by menopausal status because evidence suggests that younger women and premenopausal women may have more aggressive tumors and thus may benefit from more frequent screening. We found from this study that premenopausal women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer following biennial versus annual screening mammography were more likely to have tumors with less-favorable prognostic characteristics (e.g., later stage, larger size). For example, women with an invasive breast cancer diagnosed after a biennial screen had a 28% increased risk of a stage IIB or higher tumor, a 21% increased risk of being diagnosed with a tumor >15 mm, and an 11% higher risk of being diagnosed with a tumor with any less-favorable prognostic characteristic compared women diagnosed with breast cancer following an annual mammogram. In contrast, we found postmenopausal women not using hormone therapy and women 50 years of age or older had similar proportions of tumors with less-favorable prognostic characteristics regardless of screening interval. Relative risk estimates were close to one with no significant differences between biennial and annual screeners. Among postmenopausal women using hormone therapy at the time of the mammogram and women age 40-49, results were less clear. Relative risk estimates for biennial versus annual screeners were consistently above one, but were not as large as for premenopausal women and were not statistically significant. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer / 17.10.2015

Dr. Will Brackenbury MRC Research Fellow University of York York, Interview with: Dr. Will Brackenbury MRC Research Fellow University of York York,  UK Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Brackenbury: Although survival rates from breast cancer are improving, metastasis, the spread of cancer cells from the primary tumor to secondary sites, is still the main cause of death. Unfortunately, there are no effective treatments available to slow or cure metastasis. We and others have found that sodium channels, normally found in neurons and muscle cells, are also present in metastatic cancer cells. Sodium channels are important drug targets for treating epilepsy. We previously found that the antiepileptic drug phenytoin, which is a sodium channel blocker, reduced tumor growth and metastasis in a preclinical model of breast cancer. This suggests that sodium channels might be useful new therapeutic targets for drugs that could slow metastasis. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Lancet, Surgical Research / 14.10.2015 Interview with: Dr. R. A. Badwe, MS Director, Tata Memorial Centre E. Borges Marg, Parel Mumbai -India  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response:   The available retrospective clinical data suggested an overall survival benefit for metastatic breast cancer patients treated with surgery, with or without radiation, for the primary breast tumor. These studies were fraught with biases and at the same time, studies showed  removal of the primary tumor improved survival in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma. Additionally data from animal experiments suggested that surgical removal of the primary tumor could potentially increase metastatic spread. Our study was thus planned to address the uncertainty on role of surgery of the primary in women presenting with metastatic breast cancer. The main findings of this study suggest that there is no evidence to suggest that loco-regional treatment of the primary tumor confers an overall survival advantage in patients with de-novo metastatic breast cancer and this procedure should not be routinely done. Additionally, we noted though there was significant local control in the loco regional treatment arm, there was a detriment in distant progression-free survival and no difference in overall survival. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Breast Cancer, Cancer Research / 07.10.2015

Dr. Madeleine M A Tilanus-Linthorst PhD Department of Surgery Erasmus University Medical Centre - Cancer Institute Rotterdam, Interview with: Dr. Madeleine M A Tilanus-Linthorst PhD Department of Surgery Erasmus University Medical Centre - Cancer Institute Rotterdam, Netherlands  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Medical Research: Why is this study important? Response: This prospective nationwide study  investigates whether  tumor stage (size and axillary nodal involvement)  still has impact on survival of breast cancer in modern times with more effective end more widely used additional systemic therapy . We  take tumour biology, age and the different therapies into account and compare results with our nationwide results from 1999-2005.   
  1. Mortality increased with increasing tumour size and independently with nodal involvement, correcting for age, tumour biology and therapy.
  2. Five year relative survival (this is compared with women without breast cancer of the same ages) was 96% for all 93.569 Dutch breast cancer patients between 2006-2012 and 100% in cancers ≤ 1cm.3.     In 2006-2012 in the Dutch population 65% of the breast cancers were detected ≤2cm.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
  1. First, the general prospect of a woman diagnosed with breast cancer currently in the Western world is very good.
  2. Catching breast cancer early is still highly important.
  3. Surgery is the cornerstone of therapy and maybe breast conserving therapy is even a bit better for survival than mastectomy and certainly not worse. Breast cancer in the other breast did not impact on survival and preventive contralateral mastectomy seems only well advised in high risk gene mutation carriers.
  4. Both additional hormonal therapy and targeted therapy (usual against epidermal growth factor her2neu) are, if indicated by tumour stage and receptor status, beneficial for survival.
  5. Further also patients diagnosed late with large tumors of 5cm and above experienced an improvement in outcome. In the earlier group such patients had a 70% five-year relative survival, while in the recent cohort this increased to 81%. This may be a comforting result for some patients.
  6. Finally our results are informative when considering breast  screening.
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Endocrinology, JAMA, Menopause / 05.10.2015

Rodrigo R. Munhoz, MD Hospital Sírio Libanês São Paulo, Brazil Interview with: Rodrigo R. Munhoz, MD Hospital Sírio Libanês São Paulo, Brazil  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Munhoz:  Chemotherapy-induced early menopause and its impact on quality of life is clinically relevant issue that often arises during the treatment with curative intent of premenopausal patients with early breast cancer. The use of neo-/adjuvant chemotherapy is associated with risks of ovarian dysfunction, permanent or transient amenorrhea, infertility and symptoms of menopause with a premature onset. In addition to osteoporosis, loss of libido, increased cardiovascular risk and atrophic vaginitis, early ovarian dysfunction may adversely impact quality of life and result in significant psychosocial burden. Currently available guidelines addressing fertility preservation in young women undergoing treatment for early breast cancer recommend that patients at reproductive ages should be advised about the potential risks of fertility impairment and additional effects of adjuvant chemotherapy and that preservation techniques should be carefully considered. However, “evidence regarding the effectiveness of ovarian suppression” is quoted as “insufficient” and the use GnRH agonists as “experimental” . The current meta-analysis includes a large number of patients and also the results of recently presented clinical trials, and suggest that the use of GnRH agonists is associated a higher rate of recovery of regular menses in patients with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy.These results summarize the findings of different clinical trials and has immediate clinical implications - this was not clear in the literature, since negative results had been reported across different clinical trials. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Surgical Research / 04.10.2015

Kimberly J. Van Zee, MD, FACS Surgical oncologist Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Interview with: Kimberly J. Van Zee, MD, FACS Surgical oncologist Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Medical Research: Why is this study important? Dr. Van Zee: It is very important because the 4 large studies that randomized women with DCIS to radiation or not after they had breast-conserving surgery all began between 1985 and 1990.  Those studies are generally used to help women and clinicians estimate risk of subsequent recurrence in the same breast over time.  This study shows that recurrence rates have significantly fallen over the decades, suggesting that the recurrence rates observed in those studies are higher than what would be expected in the current era.  This is good news for women that want to have breast conservation for DCIS! Medical Research: What are the key findings? Dr. Van Zee:
  1. a)       Recurrence rates have fallen over the years, by about 40% between the early period (1978-1998) and the later period (1999-2010).
  2. b)      The decrease in recurrence rates is only partly explained by factors such as increased screening, wider margins, more frequent use of endocrine therapy (ie, tamoxifen).
  3. c)       The improvement in recurrence rates is mostly due to a decrease in recurrence rates for women NOT undergoing radiation (even though women having radiation continue to have a lower recurrence rate than those not having radiation)
  4. d)      This last point is important because since radiation is given only to reduce local recurrence rates and has never been shown to improve survival (survival is excellent with all treatments).  So a woman treated currently with breast conservation without radiation can expect about a  40% lower recurrence rate than in the earlier decades.
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Chemotherapy, Genetic Research, NEJM / 29.09.2015

Dr. Kathy D. Miller, MD Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Interview with: Dr. Kathy D. Miller, MD Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Miller: Previous studies had found a small but real benefit with the addition of chemotherapy to anti-estrogen treatment in patients with hormone sensitive disease. The challenge for patients and clinicians has always been that the benefit of chemotherapy is quite small and the toxicity can be substantial. The Oncotype Dx recurrence score assay was developed to identify patients who could safely be treated with anti-estrogen therapy alone (and conversely those who truly need and would derive a much larger benefit from chemotherapy). When the Oncotype Dx RS was applied to samples stored from a previous randomized trial, patients with low risk scores didn't seem to benefit from chemotherapy. While those initial results had some impact on treatment, many were concerned about eliminating chemotherapy on the basis of one small retrospective trial. The overall trial enrolled 10,253 women. 1626 (15.9%) had a Recurrence Score of 0-10 and were assigned to receive antiestrogen therapy alone without chemotherapy. After five years 99.3% (98.7, 99.6%) for were free of distant relapse (that is to say, 99.3% of women had NOT had recurrence of breast cancer at distant sites in the body). Overall survival was 98%. (more…)