The Women's Health Resource. On the web since 1997. Breast Health Newsletter

November 11, 1999 - Volume 1, Issue 3

Comprehensive Information of Breast Cancer and Breast Health Issues



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1.  In the News:
- FDA approves Taxol for early breast cancer treatment...
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved the anti-cancer drug Taxol (generic name paclitaxel) to treat early stage breast cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes under the arm.  In the largest adjuvant breast cancer study ever conducted, the Cancer and Leukemia Group B observed a 20% decrease in recurrent node-positive breast cancer and a reduced mortality rate of 26% in 3000 patients who were given Taxol.

- Fund the fight: help stamp out breast cancer...
The "Fund the Fight, Find a Cure" semi-postal stamp was released to help fund breast cancer research.  The stamp's introduction was a direct result of the efforts of Ernie Bodai, MD, a Breast Health Specialist who has treated over 2000 women with breast cancer over the last fifteen years.  The U.S. Postal Service reports that as of July 29, 1999, sales of the Breast Cancer Research Stamp have raised $7.8 million to help breast cancer research.

- Non-toxic drug fenretinide may reduce recurrent breast cancer...
A preliminary study reveals that fenretinide, a non-toxic drug related to Vitamin A, may significantly reduce recurrent breast cancer in pre-menopausal women. Though researchers say the results need further confirmation, the use of fenretinide in younger women may lead to a new and safe method to prevent breast cancer recurrence.

- Researchers skeptical about link between breast cancer and dry cleaning,
lawn service...
A number of small studies over the past few years have shown a possible increased incidence of breast cancer in women who use dry cleaning services or professional lawn services. However, several health care professionals doubt the scientific validity of these studies whose data is often contradicted in larger studies.

2. New Mammography Second Opinion Service Available
All women who have been referred for breast biopsy based on the results of a mammogram should consider obtaining a second opinion prior to undergoing biopsy. National statistics show that approximately 800,000 (80%) of the one million biopsies performed annually in the US result in benign (non-cancerous) findings. The UNC Hospitals Mammography Second Opinion Service provides expert  services for women and physicians who would like assistance with the interpretation of mammograms and other diagnostic studies such as breast ultrasound.

3. Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is often prescribed to relieve menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and to help prevent osteoporosis and heart disease in post-menopausal women.  This article reviews the conflicting evidence that supports a link between HRT and an increased risk for breast cancer.  However, the risk seems to be small and appears to be related to the duration of treatment and the general breast cancer risk of the patient.

4. FDA Approves Herceptin for Breast Cancer Treatment
The FDA recently approved the drug herceptin (generic name Trastuzumab) to treat breast cancer patients whose cancers have spread beyond the breast and underarm lymph nodes.   In clinical trials, herceptin has shown to slow the growth and spread of cancerous tumors.  Patients who have abnormal HER2 protein receptors are candidates for herceptin treatment.

5. Benign Breast Conditions
A benign breast condition is any non-cancerous breast abnormality. According to the American Cancer Society, when breast tissue is examined under a microscope some type of abnormality is common in nine out of every ten women. Though not life-threatening, benign conditions may cause discomfort, pain or abnormal nipple discharge for some women. The most common benign breast conditions include fibrocystic change, benign breast tumors, and breast inflammation.


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