Archive for the ‘Medical’ Category

Anastrozole Better for DCIS? Experts Say “Yes” in Some Cases

Posted By on June 15th, 2015 at 8:34 am | 0 comments.

Anastrazole-for-PLResearchers say anastrozole may be as effective, if not more effective, than tamoxifen when it comes to treating DCIS. A study conducted by NRG Oncology and the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) monitored DCIS patients taking anastrozole and patients taking tamoxifen for 5 years. Women under the age of 60 taking anastrozole had a slightly higher rate of dissease-free survival than those taking tamoxifen.

Of those women participating in the study, 88.8 percent who took anastrozole remained disease-free compared with 81.5 percent of those who received tamoxifen.  Also according to the study, anastrozole demonstrated a favorable safety profile. There were 17 instances of uterine cancer in the tamoxifen group and 8 cases in the anastrozole group, although there were more occurrences of osteopathic fractures with anastrozole (69 events) than with tamoxifen (50 events).

To read the complete article on this study, click here.

No Insurance? FREE Breast Cancer Treatment is Available in PA

Posted By on June 15th, 2015 at 8:34 am | 0 comments.

free-treatmentDid you know that there is FREE breast cancer treatment available to you if you are uninsured or underinsured in Pennsylvania?
Women who qualify for the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment program (BCCPT) can receive free health care, including health care for medical needs unrelated to a breast or cervical cancer diagnosis, throughout their course of treatment for cancer or a pre-cancerous condition of the breast or cervix. Applicants must be Pennsylvania residents under the age of 65.
Anyone interested in learning more about the topic can take the PBCC’s FREE online course. Review real-life case studies and hear inspiring survivor stories. Nurses and social workers will earn two FREE continuing education credits.

The Cold Cap: Keeping your Hair During Chemo

Posted By on April 15th, 2015 at 8:28 am | 628 comments.

chemo-cap-associated-press-for-plWhen it comes to the side effects of breast cancer treatment, many women fear losing their hair the most. A popular new process could stop that from happening. Cancer patients are opting for the chemo “cold cap.” What is it? It’s a cap you wear during treatment and a few hours after that freezes the scalp and stops hair from falling out.

A study at the University of California, San Francisco monitored 100 women who received chemotherapy and used a cooling cap.  Results have not been published, but studies did show that a majority of the women kept most of their hair.  How does it work? The cold cap reduces chemotherapy-induced alopecia (hair loss) by cooling the hair capillaries and reducing the metabolic rate of the hair follicles to a hibernated state, preventing the absorption of chemotherapeutic drugs into the hair bulbs of the scalp.

The process can be costly, averaging around $600 per month for rental of the caps.  Most insurers do not cover the cost, but there have been cases where cooling caps are covered in lieu of wig costs.

To read the complete New York Times article on chemo cooling caps, click here.

Join the conversation! Is anyone using the cold cap? WOULD you use one?  Follow the PBCC on Facebook and Twitter and let us know!

Cost Concerns Over Shorter, High-dose Radiation Therapy Treatments

Posted By on March 16th, 2015 at 8:36 am | 659 comments.

radiation-therapyRecent studies suggest that shorter, high-dose radiation treatments can be just as effective as longer-range therapy regimens.  So, why aren’t more patients opting for them? According to doctors at Duke University Medical Center, that reason could be cost.

Duke’s research shows that fewer than 20 percent of patients with early invasive breast cancer who opted for breast-conserving surgery chose to receive the shorter hydrofractionated therapy instead of the more traditional therapy.  Researchers at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium reported that concerns over cost could be the reason shorter, high-dose therapies aren’t catching on.  They also note that about 10 percent of patients at community facilities have access to the hydrofractionated radiation and some 15 percent of patients treated at comprehensive community cancer centers received the treatment.
You can read more about short course radiation therapy in the latest edition of the PBCC’s Frontline Newsletter here.

To read more about this study online, click here.

Expensive Prescriptions? Assistance Programs Available for Families

Posted By on March 16th, 2015 at 8:36 am | 518 comments.

prescription-helpMany pharmaceutical companies offer Patient Assistance Programs for the prescription medications they manufacture. Patients who are uninsured or underinsured may qualify to receive free or discounted drugs for breast cancer treatment and other family medical needs. Needy Meds provides a user-friendly list of the companies’ assistance programs with details about how to apply.

On the Needy Meds website, search by the name of your prescription medication to see if an assistance program is offered.  Also, Pennsylvania’s prescription assistance programs for older adults, PACE, PACENET and PACE plus Medicare, offer low-cost prescription medication to qualified residents, age 65 and older. For more information, call the PA Department of Aging at 1-800-225-7223.

Breast Cancer Death Rates Decline Drastically Over 20 Years

Posted By on February 16th, 2015 at 8:29 am | 560 comments.

Breast-Cancer-Survival-for-PLIn the past 20 years, breast cancer death rates have dropped dramatically.  According to the latest government statistics, breast cancer deaths decreased by 34 percent between 1990 and 2011 and experts believe that number has continued to drop over the past 4 years.  Why the decrease?

Researchers say death rates from breast cancer have declined due to better treatment, greater awareness, and more women getting mammograms.  New medicines in the past 20 years, such as targeted chemotherapy and Tamoxifen, have contributed to increasing breast cancer survival.  Today, there is an increasing trend toward individualized medicine as doctors learn more about tumors and the effectiveness of personalized medicine.  Additionally in the past 20 years, more women are becoming aware of the disease and are going to the doctors when something seems suspicious.  Many are hopeful that this downward trend will continue and even more women will survive a breast cancer diagnosis.

Click here to read the full article.

How Long Should Women Receive Radiation Treatment?

Posted By on December 15th, 2014 at 9:42 am | 1046 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 | 292 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.