"Until earlier this week, I had 20/20 vision, but thanks to a rare side effect from a necessary medical procedure, that’s no longer true.
I had stepped into the hyperbaric oxygen chamber in hopes of healing my jaw necrosis. If you haven’t heard of the chamber, it is used for wounds that will not heal.
Instead, I got cataracts— a one-in-a-billion side effect.
After receiving 20 of the 40 sessions prescribed for me, I was driving home and thought it odd that I could barely see the street signs that came my way. Then I remembered one of the men in the chamber had said that he became near-sighted after his first round of sessions (it was now a year later, and he was trying it again). He said the near-sightedness lasted for about three weeks, and then his eyesight returned to normal.
As usual— thinking like Mary Poppins, as I often do— I thought, “That could never happen to me!” But everything happens to me."
Susan Zager's insight:
"Noreen Fraser is living with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. She is the Founder and CEO of the Noreen Fraser Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to funding groundbreaking women's cancer research."
More than 200,000 Americans are diagnosed with invasive breast cancer each year, and recent research suggests that military service members are disproportionately affected. In fact, more women have been evacuated from the theaters in Iraq and Afghanistan for breast cancer-related causes than any other reason. While some of this startling increase may be attributed to more sophisticated methods of detection as well as more frequent examinations, this does not account for the staggering difference in our veterans.
Unfortunately, since the Department of Veterans Affairs currently fails to recognize breast cancer as a service-related disability, veterans remain ineligible for the health coverage they earned through their service. When Rep. Boswell introduced the Armed Forces Breast Cancer Research Act (H.R. 4869) to the House of Representatives in May, he took an important and necessary step towards correcting this disparity. The time has come for you and your congressional colleagues to continue the work of Boswell and make this bill into law.
Susan Zager's insight:
Please read and sign this petition. It is unacceptable that our military personnel are not covered for breast cancer treatments.
"A new breast cancer vaccine candidate, GP2, provides further evidence of the potential of immunotherapy in preventing disease recurrence.
This is especially the case for high-risk patients when it is combined with a powerful immunotherapy drug. These findings are being presented by The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center at the 2014 American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Breast Cancer Symposium in San Francisco.
“This is an important and different avenue in immunotherapy research, in that we are investigating ways to prevent cancer recurrence by stimulating the immune system to treat cancer,” says principal investigator Elizabeth Mittendorf, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of Surgical Oncology. “The ultimate goal is to develop a preventative tool that will minimize the risk of recurrence in women who have already had breast cancer and for whom standard therapies have failed.”
One of only a few vaccines of its kind in development, GP2 has been shown to be safe and effective for breast cancer patients, reducing recurrence rates by 57 percent. Further, women with the highest overexpression of HER2, also known as HER2 +3, had no cancer recurrences when they were administered the vaccine after completing trastuzumab (Herceptin), a type of immunotherapy drug known as a monoclonal antibody. HER2 is an oncoprotein that promotes tumor growth and is expressed to some extent in 75-80 percent of breast cancers.
The number of breast cancer patients undergoing immediate breast reconstruction operations after mastectomy has grown steadily over the past 15 years, according to new research. the overall success rate in the high-risk population is over 88 percent, which the study authors consider high, although complications such as implant explantation and flap problems do occur.
"Dr. Lee Schwartzberg, Editor-in-Chief of PracticeUpdate Oncology, recommends the following papers in breast cancer to be presented at the ESMO 2014 Congress held September 27 through September 30, 2014, in Madrid.
September 27, 2014; 12:45 PM–1:45 PM
Poster Discussion: Metastatic and Locally Advanced Breast Cancer: Facing With Heterogeneity and Endpoints in Clinical Trials
358PD Vinflunine (VFL) plus capecitabine (CAPE) for advanced breast cancer (ABC) previously treated with or resistant to anthracycline and resistant to taxane : a phase 3 study versus capecitabine.
Authors: MM Jimenez, Y Demidchik, I Bondarenko, et al
This open-label, multicenter study randomized 770 ABC patients (up to three prior CT regimens) to VFL plus CAPE (n=384) or CAPE alone (n = 386). Patients taking VFL plus CAPE had prolonged PFS compared with CAPE alone (median, 5.6 vs 4.1 months; P = .0426). VFL plus CAPE had better response rate (22.9% vs 17.9%), disease control rate (57.3% vs 47.9%), and OS (674 total deaths; 13.9 months vs 11.7 months). The most frequent grade 3/4 event was neutropenia for the combination and hand–foot syndrome for CAPE.
For A/T pretreated/resistant patients with ABC, VFL plus CAPE showed significant improvement in PFS over CAPE alone.
359PD Final efficacy and safety analysis of the CARIN phase III trial: Capecitabine (Cap) and bevacizumab (Bev) with or without vinorelbine (Vin) in 1st line metastatic breast cancer (MBC).
Authors: A Welt, N Marschner, C Lerchenmüller, et al
"Advanced breast cancer (ABC) is a treatable but still generally incurable disease. The goals of care are to optimize both length and quality of life. Due to continuous research, several advances have been made, particularly for the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER-2)-positive and for luminal-like subtypes. Notwithstanding these advances, median overall survival of patients with ABC is still only 2–3 years, although the range is wide [1–5], and survival may be longer for patients treated in specialized institutions . Implementation of current knowledge is highly variable among countries and within each country.
The use of treatment guidelines has been associated with a significant improvement in survival [7–9]. This has been achieved mainly in early breast cancer. For ABC, and particularly metastatic breast cancer (MBC), less level 1 evidence exists and only recently has international consensus guidelines been developed (ABC1) . The ABC Consensus Conference was created by the European School of Oncology (ESO) with the ambitious goal of improving outcomes for all patients with ABC. Backed by strong political advocacy, ABC guidelines are seeking to improve standards of care, to raise awareness about how to best meet to the needs of this underserved group of patients, and to identify research priorities, so that clinical research is focused on the most important areas of unmet need.
Following the work of the ESO-ABC Task Force [11–14], created in 2005, and the successful undertaking of the 1st International Consensus Guidelines Conference on ABC (ABC1), held in November 2011, the 2nd International Consensus Conference for Advanced Breast Cancer (ABC2) took place in Lisbon, Portugal, on 7–9 November 2013. The conference brought together about 1100 participants from 71 countries, including health professionals, patient advocates, and journalists. A series of guidelines were discussed and agreed upon, based on the most up-to-date evidence, and can be used to guide treatment decision-making in diverse health-care settings globally. These guidelines are developed as a joint effort from ESO and ESMO (European Society of Medical Oncology), are endorsed by EUSOMA (European Society of Breast Cancer Specialists), SIS (Senologic International Society), and Flam (Federación Latino Americana de Mastologia), and organized under the auspices of UICC (Union Internationale Contre Le Cancer), OECI (Organization of European Cancer Institutes), and the BCRF (Breast Cancer Research Foundation).
While a number of new cancer therapies and diagnostic agents have been approved over the last year, especially targeted molecular treatments and agents that address the tendency of some newer drugs to lose effectiveness over time, the American Association for Cancer Research says in its 2014 annual cancer progress report that continued budget constraints on the National Institutes of Health will hamper new and ongoing research at a time that developing new treatments is critical.
During a telephone news briefing last week, the association’s leadership said that with an aging population, new cancer diagnoses can be expected to increase from 1.6 million this year to 2.4 million by 2035, and that developing new therapies as soon as possible is essential to address this expected surge. Half of all new cancer patients are over age 50.
AACR President Carlos Arteaga, MD, Director of the Center for Cancer Targeted Therapies at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, noted that there has been tremendous progress in developing new treatments, from bench to bedside, over the last 25 years: “It is safe to say that we are seeing transformational changes in treatment, but the pace has slowed due to years of declining budgets at the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute,” he told reporters.
“This emphasizes the vital importance of federal funding of the NIH, and especially the NCI. If we are to fully realize the promise of science to transform cancer care, it will require leadership in Congress and from the Administration, to ensure that biomedical research becomes a priority… in order for [research] to grow at a robust pace to address the burden.”
Although universal insurance coverage for postmastectomy breast reconstruction has been mandated since 1998, a new study has found that the persistently high rates of American women who choose not to undergo reconstruction surgery are due primarily to patient preferences and not a lack of awareness.
Clovis Oncology CLVS, -0.24% today announced that its Phase 2 study of lucitanib in patients with FGF-aberrant, advanced breast cancer has commenced and the first patient dosed at a U.S. study site. Lucitanib is the Company’s oral, potent inhibitor of the tyrosine kinase activity of fibroblast growth factor receptors 1 and 2 (FGFR1-2), vascular endothelial growth factor receptors 1 through 3 (VEGFR1-3) and platelet-derived growth factor receptors alpha and beta (PDGFR a-ß).
“Early lucitanib data are encouraging, and suggest that determination of genetic alterations in the FGF pathway may be important to identify the patients most likely to benefit from lucitanib treatment,” said Professor Carlos L. Arteaga, MD, Associate Director for Clinical Research, Director of the Center for Cancer Targeted Therapies, and Director of the Breast Cancer Program at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center of Vanderbilt University. “This study will further explore two doses of lucitanib in patients with FGF-aberrant breast cancer, a population which possesses these genetic alterations, and for whom new treatment options are needed.”
More and more women are choosing to aggressively treat a cancer diagnosis in one breast with a double mastectomy, but new research says that won’t make a difference in long-term survival rates. A large new study by the Stanford University School of Medicine and the Cancer Prevention Institute of California found that the rate of double mastectomies jumped from 2.0 percent in 1998 to 12.3 percent in 2013. But survival rates were similar to those who had the more targeted procedure of breast-conserving surgery — when just the malignant lump is removed, followed by radiation. The findings were published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “When faced with a new breast cancer diagnosis, many patients assume that they will achieve a survival advantage by pursuing the
"Presurgical application of a gel containing an active metabolite of tamoxifen was just as effective in inhibiting cell proliferation as oral tamoxifen in women with estrogen receptor-positive ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), but with lower levels in the blood and hence potentially fewer serious side effects, according to a small Phase II trial.
In the study, published in Clinical Cancer Research (2014;20:3672-3682), researchers tested the gel, which contains the breakdown product 4-hydroxytamoxifen (4-OHT), in 26 patients enrolled in the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 12 of whom used the gel. After six to 10 weeks, the gel was found to reduce Ki-67, a key marker of cell proliferation in the breast, at rates comparable to those achieved with oral tamoxifen over a similar period of time.
The team, led by senior author Seema A. Khan, MD, Professor of Surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, found equal amounts of 4-OHT in the breast tissue of patients in both the gel and oral arms (5.8 versus 5.4 ng/g, respectively) collected during surgery, but the level of 4-OHT in the blood of patients from the gel arm was 5.5-fold lower than in those in the oral tamoxifen arm (0.2 versus 1.1 ng/ml, respectively).
Oral tamoxifen decreases the risk of cancer recurrence in the same breast and secondary primary cancer in the other breast. Studies have shown, however, that as many as half of eligible women decline or fail to adhere to treatment out of concern for side effects, which can include an increased risk of thromboembolism, endometrial and uterine cancers, hot flashes, vaginal, and other symptoms.
Oral tamoxifen must be broken down by the liver into its active components, which include 4-OHT, but it then enters the bloodstream. Because of this, harmful side effects can arise, such as the activation of certain proteins that cause blood clots and increased risk of endometrial and uterine cancers.
“We found that applying the gel to the skin resulted in high drug levels in the breast but not in the blood, which mean that it maintains the effectiveness of the drug but should minimize serious side effects,” she said in an interview. “When the 4-OHT gel is applied directly to breast skin it is not directly metabolized by the liver, which should eliminate the risk of blood clots.”
"Years ago, women and men diagnosed with cancer did not dare speak publicly of their private torments. Over time, cancer care improved and survivors of the once-deadly disease increased. In particular, breast cancer moved from the shadows into daylight beginning with FLOTUS Betty Ford’s highly publicized battle and gaining ground from the many participants in walk-a-thons as well as the countless celebrities willing to discuss their ordeals.
In the closet no more, breast cancer is now the stuff of daily life for most Americans, as each of us seems to know somebody who has been diagnosed with this form of cancer. For this reason, it may come as a shock to learn that less than 42 percent of women choose breast reconstruction following their mastectomy. Researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center led by Dr. Monica Morrow found in their new study of breast cancer patients the factors associated with foregoing reconstruction include being older, being black, and having a lower education level."
Today's show focuses on bringing awareness about metatastic breast cancer and an all-volunteer group committed to filling gaps in MBC research; plus hear from three women who have stage 4 breast cancer. The Balancing Act latest segments and shows. Watch us weekdays at 7AM airing on Lifetime Television Network. Topics of our show include the health and wellness of our views and to introduce new and exciting products in a fun social format.
Susan Zager's insight:
Today is Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. This is a great interview with CJ Corneliussen-Jamesand Kelly Lange.
"My breast cancer went undiagnosed for eight weeks.
There is no blame to my GP at the time as I ended up with metaplastic breast cancer - and as with 0.02 per cent of women who have this deadly cancer, it presented like a cyst.
I owe my life to my breast surgeon who removed this fast-growing nightmare with deep, clear margins, however I ended up with severe nerve damage down the left side of my chest. This wonderful man even apologised but pffttt he saved my life, this pain is a small thing in comparison.
However, at times, it feels like my skin is being peeled off layer by layer. I am unable to bear even pure silk camisoles against my skin so I lie there bare-chested (in private of course!).
Chemotherapy didn't suit my body very well either, and I ended up for months enduring a mouth and throat full of abscesses. The pain was indescribable. "
Susan Zager's insight:
This article is about a Metaplastic breast cancer patient who discusses all of the incredible side effects and other things that happen as a result of the awful disease.
Epidemiologists forecast that the number of diagnosed incident cases of breast cancer in women in the 8MM is expected to grow to 1.21 million cases in 2023 at a rate of 4.23% per year during the forecast period. The number of five-year diagnosed prevalent cases in the 8MM is expected to increase by 43.0% over the next decade to 5.12 million cases in 2023.
A new final guidance document issued by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) outlines the processes by which the regulator will accept surrogate endpoints to support the accelerated approval of treatments intended for high-risk early-stage breast cancer.
Treatment approaches to reduce the risk of bone metastasis associated with breast cancer may be one step closer to becoming a reality. According to a study, findings show that medication used to treat bone deterioration in post-menopausal women may also slow skeletal metastasis caused from breast cancer. This study is among the first to link bisphosphonate use with improved survival in women with breast cancer.
"As breast cancer prevention and therapy improve and the number of survivors rises, more women are living with long-term effects of treatment. Women with breast cancer learned about ways to cope with therapy-related side effects at the September 27 Annual Fall Conference of Living Beyond Breast Cancer, entitled “Breast Cancer Today: Individual Treatments, Shared Experiences,” in Philadelphia.
Among the various side effects that Virginia F. Borges, MD, MMSc, of the University of Colorado Cancer Center, Denver, spoke about, fatigue was underscored as a major problem.
Dr. Borges cited the National Comprehensive Cancer Network in her definition of fatigue as “a distressing, persistent, subjective physical, emotional and/or cognitive sense of tiredness or exhaustion related to cancer or its treatment that is not proportional to recent activity and interferes with usual functioning and different from usual fatigue as it is not relieved by rest and sleep.”
One-third of survivors up to 10 years out report significant, life-altering fatigue. Fatigue is rated on a scale of mild, moderate, or severe, with moderate fatigue requiring work-up, referrals, or treatment. The clinical picture consists of both objective and subjective components, including physical weakness or tiredness, depression or negative alteration of mood, lack of motivation or initiative, cognitive impairment, and a weakened ability to sustain relationships."
"Tamoxifen was approved by the FDA in 1977 to treat advanced breast cancer. In 1998, the Early Breast Cancer Trialists’ Cooperative Group published results showing that tamoxifen was effective in preventing breast cancer recurrence in patients whose tumors were estrogen receptor (ER)-positive or of unknown ER status,1 which led to an expansion of the drug’s indication.2 As effective as tamoxifen and other therapies have been, some breast tumors do recur. Despite the considerable scientific data and many successes in treating breast cancer, not much is known about recurrent breast tumors, other than that they can appear in almost any location in the body and at any time after remission is attained—even decades later.
A Cure or a Disease-Free Period?
The incidence of breast cancer has remained relatively stable since 2004.3 Declining incidence during the 1990s was attributed in part to lower utilization for estrogen replacement therapy for the treatment of menopausal symptoms.4
"NEW YORK - Procter & Gamble is canceling an on-field breast cancer awareness promotion it had been planning with the National Football League, the latest sponsor to respond to the NFL's growing problems.
The consumer products maker is the latest major sponsor, following PepsiCo and Anheuser-Busch, to show concern over the NFL's handling of domestic abuse allegations against several players.
Women make up 35 percent of the average audience of 17.4 million during a regular season NFL game, and the NFL has made it a point to reach out to women in recent years.
The league has made Breast Cancer Awareness month in October a particular focus. Part of its NFL Pink "Crucial Catch" campaign, in partnership with the American Cancer Society, features players, coaches and referees wearing pink game apparel, on-field pink ribbon stencils, special game balls and pink coins.
P&G's Crest brand had been working on a program with players from each of the NFL's 32 teams to wear pink mouthguards and participate in other activities.
"The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) today issued a new clinical practice guideline on chemotherapy and targeted therapy for women with HER2-negative advanced breast cancer. The guideline provides detailed, evidenced-based information on the efficacy and side effects of various therapies.
"In releasing this guideline, our aim is to improve both the length and quality of patients' lives," said Ann H. Partridge, MD, MPH, Founder and Director, Program for Young Women with Breast Cancer,Director, Adult Survivorship Program at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and co-chair of ASCO's expert panel that developed the guideline. "Although no clear chemotherapy winner emerged – the guideline will help doctors and patients choose the best therapy based on what treatment would be most tolerable and convenient for the patient."
Nearly 80 percent of women with advanced breast cancer are HER2-negative, meaning that they have normal levels of HER2 protein in their tumor and are not candidates for HER2 targeted therapies. The new ASCO guideline assesses systemic therapy options for these women about to begin a chemotherapy treatment regimen."
"What causes cells to become mutated and develop into cancer can also be used as a form of cancer therapy.
DNA damage, when incorrectly repaired, leads to genomic instability and eventually cancer. However, therapies combined with adjuvant radiotherapy (DNA-damaging agent) have been demonstrated to improve the survival of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) patients. Nonetheless, the emergence of tumor cells resistant to such therapy, makes the development of new therapeutic strategies to overcome radioresistance and improve radiosensitivity crucial.
TNBC accounts for 15-20% of all newly diagnosed breast cancer cases, and is defined by the lack of expression of the estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) and minimal HER2 expression."
"NORTH ANDOVER — An amazing laugh. Dynamic blue eyes. A smile that lit up the room. These are the things Fiona Maguire will remember about her husband Peter Devereaux, a well-liked Marine and male breast cancer advocate who died Thursday after a six year battle with the illness. He was 52.
“He really had a great, light personality. He liked everyone. He was probably the least judgmental person you’d ever meet in your life,” Maguire said. “He never looked at people for money they made, or how they looked,or anything like that. He was really just a kind man.”
Devereaux became well known as an advocate for breast cancer patients through talks he gave at fundraisers in Greater Boston and beyond. Devereaux was part of the largest group of male breast cancer patients ever recorded: former Marines who were stationed at Camp Lejeune. At the North Carolina base, Marines and their families were exposed to toxic water from at least 1957 to 1987. Devereaux served four years with the Marines beginning when he was 18 and was stationed at Camp Lejeune for 16 months."
Susan Zager's insight:
Peter was pretty incredible.I was fortunate to meet him with other advocates at SABCS. Our prayers go out to all of his family and friends.