Breast Health Newsletter | Newsletter 2000 | Imaginis - The Women's Health & Wellness Resource Network

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

January 20, 2000 - Volume 2, Issue 2

Comprehensive Information of Breast Cancer and Breast Health Issues



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1. In the News:
- New Kits Help Patients Manage Fluid Drainage after Lumpectomy, Mastectomy, and Breast Reconstruction...

A new post-surgical drainage kit has recently been developed to help women take care of lumpectomy and mastectomy drains after discharge from the hospital. Instead of pinning drainage
tubes to gowns or undergarments, a woman may place her drainage bulb in a belt bag for easy mobility. The post-surgery drainage kits allow women to obtain all of the necessary supplies to care for their drains at one time. Besides building confidence and alleviating some of the stress associated with breast surgery, using a drainage kit may reduce the number of calls a woman has to make to her physician or nurse after surgery.
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- Medical Experts Refute Recent Study that Criticizes Mammography...

A recent study by Danish researchers has led medical experts to reiterate the benefits of screening mammography. The widely publicized study claims that mammography does not reduce the mortality rate of breast cancer and is therefore useless as a screening tool. Several organizations including the American Cancer Society (ACS) and Britain’s Department of Health call the Danish findings inaccurate and unjustified. Researchers in the United States and Britain argue that mammography vastly improves breast cancer diagnosis and prognosis (expected outcome). In the United States, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that screening with mammography has the potential to prevent 15% to 30% of deaths from breast cancer among women over 40 years of age.
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- New Study Suggests Number of Lymph Nodes May Be Linked to Breast Cancer

Researchers have discovered that the total number of lymph nodes present in the underarm region may be related to a woman’s risk of dying from breast cancer when there is no evidence that cancer has spread past the breast. Lymph nodes are key components of the lymphatic system--an essential element of the body’s immune system--and they help remove cell waste and fight infections. The study indicated that women with less than 20 axillary (underarm) lymph nodes have a greater chance of surviving breast cancer than women with more than 20 nodes. The results of the studied indicated that the five-year survival rate for women with fewer than 20 tumor-free lymph nodes was 84.7% compared with 96.3% for patients with 20 or more tumor-free lymph nodes.
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- Some Breast Cancer Recurrences May Be More Likely Among Younger Women...

A widely publicized study reported that cases in which breast cancer returns (recurs) after treatment may be more common among younger women. The results of the study revealed that women under 45 years of age showed a higher rate of cancer recurrence than older women in part because their lumpectomies did not remove enough breast tissue. Lumpectomy, the surgical removal of a breast lump and a surrounding margin of normal breast tissue, has become a common treatment for early stage breast cancer. It is also known that breast cancer is typically more aggressive in younger patients.
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- Tamoxifen Improves Breast Cancer Survival, Decreases Chances of Cancer
Returning in Older Women...

A recent British study confirms previous data that suggests the benefits of the drug tamoxifen in breast cancer patients may be age-related. Researchers found that breast cancer patients in their 60s with early stage breast cancer had significantly lower cancer recurrence rates and higher survival rates when using tamoxifen than younger women. Researchers are not certain why young women do not always respond as well to tamoxifen but believe it may be related to the amount of estrogen produced in their bodies. Tamoxifen is currently the most widely prescribed drug used to treat breast cancer since its approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1976. Recently, tamoxifen has also been shown to be effective in preventing breast cancer in some women who are at high risk for the disease.
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2. Breast Cancer Treatment Options
Most women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer will undergo some type of treatment for the disease. A woman’s most favorable course of treatment will depend on a number of factors including the size and location of the breast tumor, the stage of the cancer, and results of laboratory tests (such as hormone receptor tests). Before undergoing treatment, women are encouraged to learn about the different treatment options available and to discuss all possible alternatives with their physician or cancer treatment team. The article provides an overview to
the variety of treatment options available to women with breast cancer.
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3. Frequently Asked Questions About Breast Cancer and Breast Health
Who is at risk for breast cancer? Is breast cancer a genetic disease? What are the warning signs of breast cancer? Does nutrition and diet affect breast cancer risk? How can women reduce their risk of breast cancer? How often should breast self-examination be performed? Do young women get breast cancer? How is breast cancer diagnosed? Who should get a mammogram? This section addresses these common questions and more about breast cancer and breast health.
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4. Steps to Follow to Handle Hair Loss During Chemotherapy
Some women experience hair loss (alopecia) while undergoing chemotherapy. With recent advances in hair replacement technology, women have a variety of choices to help make themselves look and feel better during treatment. Some wigs are now made to allow a woman’s scalp to show through to give the impression that hair is growing from the scalp. This article offers tips to women who are considering wearing a wig during chemotherapy.
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5. Breast Health and Breast Cancer During Pregnancy
Most lumps and worrisome breast changes discovered during pregnancy are benign (non-cancerous). They can be caused by many of the same processes seen in non-pregnant women or from several benign processes seen only during pregnancy and lactation. However, breast cancer can occur during pregnancy. Women must continue monthly breast self-examination during pregnancy. Clinical breast examination by a healthcare professional should also be made on a monthly basis during pregnancy.
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