Breast Cancer

Cancer treatment: Is a clinical trial right for you?

Some people undergoing cancer treatment may be eligible to participate in a clinical trial of a new drug or therapy. These trials help determine whether a new approach is more effective than standard treatment.

Fear of cancer recurrence: Mind-body tools offer hope

As the number of cancer survivors continues to grow, many continue to worry for years after treatment ends about a recurrence of the disease. These people need post-treatment support, and mind-body techniques offer a promising solution.

Heart disease and breast cancer: Can women cut risk for both?

Monique Tello, MD, MPH

Contributing Editor

While they share many risk factors, far more women are living with heart disease than with breast cancer. Exercise and a healthy diet can cut a woman’s risk for both.

Screening mammograms: One recommendation may not fit all

Monique Tello, MD, MPH

Contributing Editor

Research shows that the risk of breast cancer, and its severity, is greater for women of certain racial and ethnic backgrounds. These factors have not yet been included in formal guidelines for screening mammograms, but women need to be aware of them.

Revisiting options for improving results of breast reconstruction

Ted A. James, MD

Contributor

Women who choose breast reconstruction after mastectomy but are unhappy with the results have another option: fat grafting, in which liquefied tissue from another part of the body is injected into the reconstructed breast.

Thyroid disease and breast cancer: Is there a link?

Mallika Marshall, MD

Contributing Editor

Researchers have wondered for a long time whether there might be a link between excess thyroid hormone and an increased risk of breast cancer. High levels of thyroid hormone have been shown to mimic estrogen, which fuels many breast cancers. A new study has suggested that there may indeed be a link — but it’s important to put the results into context.

New mammography guidelines call for starting later and screening less often

The age at which women should start having screening mammograms, and how often, has been controversial for some time. Reputable national organizations have differed in their recommendations. Accumulating data suggest that for women under 45, screening mammograms may bring more harm than good. As a result, the American Cancer Society has radically shifted its screening guidelines for women in their early 40s at an average risk for breast cancer.

Untangling the non-invasive breast cancer controversy

Sara Fazio, MD, FACP

Contributing Editor

Last month, JAMA Oncology published a study that suggests standard treatment for non-invasive breast cancer (DCIS) may be too aggressive and that perhaps some women with DCIS would do just as well without lumpectomy or mastectomy. As expected, this has generated a lot of controversy and confusion. For some women, DCIS is a “precursor” to invasive breast cancer, but in many others, it may not progress. But right now, doctors don’t understand these cancers well, and it is difficult to predict how these abnormal cells will behave in any given woman. More research is needed to determine optimal treatment for each individual woman diagnosed with DCIS. In the meantime, a woman with DCIS and her doctor should take into account certain risk factors (age and race among them), as well as that woman’s personal preferences when creating a treatment plan.

Mediterranean diet may prevent breast cancer, but there are other reasons to pour on the olive oil

The PREDIMED study showed that the Mediterranean diet can statistically lower a person’s risk for cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks, strokes, and death from heart-related causes. The data also suggest that a Mediterranean diet is associated with a reduced chance of getting breast cancer. This small analysis has some limitations, but provides another reason to consider this already healthful way of eating.

Draft recommendations on screening mammography continue to stir debate

Gregory Curfman, MD

Assistant Professor of Medicine, Former Editor-in-Chief, Harvard Health Publishing

The release of new guidelines on mammography never fails to renew the heated controversy over the potential benefits and harms of this procedure. The latest draft guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) are no exception. The USPSTF recommends that women begin having mammograms at age 50 and stop at age 75. (The American Cancer Society and other medical organizations recommend that women begin getting regular mammograms at age 40.) The draft recommendations say there isn’t enough evidence to recommend or discourage the use of a new technique called 3-D mammography for screening, and also say there isn’t enough evidence to recommend that women with dense breasts, who are at higher risk of breast cancer, should have an ultrasound or MRI in addition to screening mammography. Comments can be made on the USPSTF draft until 8:00 pm Easter Time today. A final version of the recommendations is expected to be released in the fall of 2015.