Archive for the ‘Medical’ Category

How Long Should Women Receive Radiation Treatment?

Posted By on December 15th, 2014 at 9:42 am | 0 comments.

A recent article in The Journal of the American Medical Association studied the use of radiation after a lumpectomy. This study was conducted by researchers Ezekial J. Emanuel and Justin E. Bekelman of the University of Pennsylvania and other colleagues. The group set out to examine a study done in 2011 which recommends shorter, more intense radiation treatments for women who were older than 50 that had early-stage cancers. What did they find?

Radiation-for-PL-2This recent study looked at two different groups of women: those who doctors recommended to receive shorter treatment (3-4 weeks of radiation) and a group of women who were younger and either had chemotherapy or more advanced cancer (5-7 weeks of radiation).
Both courses of treatment were found to have the same effectiveness, but the shorter version saved time for patients and saved money for the health care system and insurers.  Doctors did not readily adopt the new recommendations because it went against years of practice in the field.  In the 1970s and 1980s, the equipment was much less sophisticated and a shorter, more intense therapy burned women’s skin and scarred their breasts, but with the improved equipment and methodology of today, studies have found that the cosmetic results of the shorter therapy were just as good.

Overall, the study found that the use of the shorter therapy had increased from 2008 to 2013.
To read the complete article, click here.

Genetics May Shield Latinas from Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Posted By on November 14th, 2014 at 7:51 am | 66 comments.

woman-at-doctor-PLHispanics have less than a 10 percent lifetime risk of developing breast cancer when compared to 13 percent for non-Hispanic whites and 11 percent for African Americans.  A study led by a team at the University of California, San Francisco may have found why Latinas have a lower risk of developing breast cancer.  There is a genetic variation that is common in Hispanic women with indigenous American ancestry that appears to lower the risk of breast cancer.

The genetic variation may work by decreasing breast density or affecting the production of estrogen receptors.  Women who carry one copy of the variant were 40 percent less likely to develop breast cancer and those with two copies had double that level of protection.  The risk was especially low for estrogen-receptor negative breast cancer, which is an aggressive form.  This genetic variant may lower the risk of breast cancer, but is not the “silver bullet” because some women with the variant still get breast cancer.  Marc Hurlbert, the executive director of the Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Crusade is quoted in saying that this study is important because “if we can understand how this is protective, it might help us to develop better treatments for those who do get breast cancer.”

To read the complete study, click here.

Medicaid Expansion to Provide Coverage for Thousands in PA

Posted By on September 15th, 2014 at 3:33 pm | 50 comments.

Medicaid-Expansion-for-PlEffective January 1, more than 400,000 low-income Pennsylvania residents will be eligible to receive new healthcare coverage through Medicaid. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have approved an expansion of Medicaid through an amended version of the Healthy PA program for Pennsylvanians who meet certain income criteria. Who does the new ruling cover?

Medicaid expansion covers individuals and families with incomes below 138% of the federal poverty level.  For example, a single Pennsylvania resident earning less than $16,105 will qualify to receive free coverage.  A family of two earning less than $21,707 would also benefit from the expanded coverage.

Enrollment for coverage under the Healthy PA expansion will open December 1 and effective January 1.  The coverage can be retroactive to help with medical bills incurred in the past three months prior.

For more information on Pennsylvania’s expansion of Medicaid click here.

 

Research Breakthrough: Blood Test Detects Early-Stage Breast Cancer

Posted By on September 15th, 2014 at 3:33 pm | 57 comments.

Blood-vials-for-PLScientists in Israel say they have developed the first blood test for the early detection of breast cancer.  This test is called Octavia Pink and is currently available in Israel and Italy.  What about here in the U.S.?

In the U.S., Octavia Pink is undergoing clinical trials in order to receive FDA approval.  The test works by looking at antibodies in the blood.  In addition to this test, EventusDx has developed a new technology that can process 96 blood samples at one time and takes no more than 3 hours.  This technology allows a woman’s doctor to rule out or confirm a diagnosis very quickly.  Researchers say the Octavia Pink test has proven to be more accurate at detecting breast cancer than mammograms.  Results of the Israeli study show that the test correctly diagnosed 95% of healthy women and 75% of women with breast cancer.

To read the complete article, click here.

Study Finds Third Gene Related to Breast Cancer

Posted By on August 15th, 2014 at 8:48 am | 107 comments.

ResearchersforwebThe two genes that have historically been linked with an increased risk of breast cancer are the BRCA1 and BRCA 2 genes.  Now, researchers at the University of Cambridge have found a third gene called PALB2 that raises the risk of breast cancer almost as much as BRCA1 and BRCA2.

Many genetic tests already check for the PALB2 gene, but it was unclear to what extent this gene increased the risk of breast cancer.  By age 70, women with BRCA1 mutations have a 50-70% chance of developing breast cancer and those with BRCA2 have a 40-60% chance.  If there is a mutation in the PALB2 gene, women have a 35% chance of developing breast cancer by age 70.

Research also found that women with the PALB2 gene have a slightly higher risk of developing triple-negative breast cancer, which is resistant to hormone treatment, more aggressive, and more likely to recur than other types of breast cancer.  Official guidelines do not recommend that women have genetic testing unless they have a family history, but the principal investigator on this new research, Dr. Marc Tischkowitz, said that, “such women should consider testing for PALB2 mutations if they are negative for BRCA1 and BRCA2.”

Read the complete New York Times article on this research: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/07/health/gene-indicator-breast-cancer-risk.html?_r=0

Study: 3-D Mammograms More Accurate in Detecting Invasive Breast Cancer

Posted By on July 11th, 2014 at 12:51 pm | 2163 comments.
3-D-Mammography-Dr.-Conant2

Dr. Emily Conant, chief of breast imaging at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center calls 3-D mammography “a big step forward.”

According to a new study, 3-D mammograms may be better at detecting invasive tumors and avoiding false alarms than regular mammograms alone.  Researchers studied data from 13 U.S. hospitals and found that 3D screenings increased breast cancer detection rates more than 40 percent.

The findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, also show a 15 percent decrease in women who had to return for further testing.  Right now, 3D mammograms are not covered by most insurance companies and typically cost an extra $50 – $100.  Researchers are hoping that will change in the future.  Doctors involved with the study say, after years of a one-size-fits-all approach, these findings could lead to more tailored recommendations for women.

For the complete article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, click here.

Study: Drug May Protect Fertility During Chemotherapy

Posted By on June 16th, 2014 at 8:46 am | 990 comments.

pregnant-womangreenResearchers at the Cleveland Clinic say they have found a drug that shows promise in protecting fertility among cancer survivors.  Goserelin, which is commonly used in hormonal therapies to treat breast and prostate cancers, is also used in fertility clinics to control ovulation.  How does it work?

According to this recent study, goserelin has been proven to prevent women from entering premature menopause that can be caused by chemotherapy.  Researchers found that women who were given goserelin injections along with chemotherapy had less ovarian failure and gave birth to more babies than women who only received chemotherapy.  Two years after starting chemotherapy, only 8% of women who received the monthly goserelin injections during chemotherapy experienced ovarian failure, compared to 22% of those with chemotherapy who did not receive the injections.  It was noted that this study only included women who had hormone-receptor-negative cancer, because many women with hormone-receptor-positive cancer typically receive the drug tamoxifen, which can cause a loss in menstruation.
Currently, the most common option for breast cancer patients to increase their chances of conceiving is to freeze their eggs, which is an invasive procedure that can cost $10,000+.  Once-a-month injections of goserelin during chemotherapy would serve as an alternative, costing about $500-$600 per shot.  Experts say, while the research shows positive results, the drug does come with side effects.  Survivors may experience a temporary postmenopausal state along with hot flashes and other symptoms.
There is some doubt among experts at the American Society of Clinical Oncology who say there is insufficient evidence that this approach is effective and “should not be relied on to preserve fertility.”
Still, scientists say they also noticed an unexpected finding of the study: women who received goserelin had a lower risk of dying after four years.   They say there is still not enough data to recommend this drug be used to treat cancer, but the results show goserelin will not worsen cancer outcomes if used to protect fertility.
To read the complete article in the New York Times, click here

Targeted Breast Cancer Therapy Study Calling for Participants

Posted By on May 15th, 2014 at 10:14 am | 29 comments.

Are you currently undergoing breast cancer treatment? A new study is looking for survivors who are taking either Afinitor breast-cancer-study-for-PL Tykerb. Researchers want to learn more about the patient experience including daily nutrition and any side effects they may be noticing. Want to learn more?

GlaxoSmithKline’s Focus on the Patient team is conducting this study of oncology patients.  To be eligible, you must be:

•    Currently taking one of these medications – Afinitor or Tykerb – as part of treatment regimen for at least the past two months

•    Available to participate in on-on-one interviews on one of the following dates:  May 19, 20 or 21 to be conducted in Collegeville, PA or via Skype or telephone.

•    Willing to discuss daily nutrition and any side effects experienced as a result of this treatment as well as its effects on quality of life

Researchers are hoping to gain insight into any changes for patients related to the treatment.  If you are interested in volunteering for this study, please contact Kay Warner at kay.j.warner@gsk.com or call the PBCC at 800-377-8828.