Archive for the ‘Medical’ Category

FDA Approves 1st Drug for Advanced Breast Cancer Caused by BRCA1, BRCA2 Mutations

Posted By on January 21st, 2018 at 9:10 am | 0 comments.

Previous PBCC Research Award winner Dr. Susan Domchek co-led study

It’s a breakthrough for advanced breast cancer patients with BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week approved its first treatment for advanced breast cancer caused by the inherited mutations. The drug, Lynparza (olaparib tablets), was previously approved to treat advanced ovarian cancer caused by mutations of BRCA1 or BRCA2.

University of Pennsylvania researcher and previous PBCC Research Award winner Dr. Susan Domchek co-led the study that led to the drug’s approval for breast cancer. Dr. Domchek calls the drug’s approval a significant advance for those women with triple-negative breast cancer and a BRCA mutation.

FDA Approves Pill for Metastatic Breast Cancer

Posted By on November 7th, 2017 at 10:06 am | 0 comments.

Patients with metastatic breast cancer have a new FDA-approved treatment option. Federal regulators approved the drug, Verzenio, which blocks enzymes that promote the growth of cancer cells for women with HR-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer. This new drug is targeted specifically for survivors who have not responded to hormone therapy.

To read the complete article, click here.


Study: Pregnancy After Breast Cancer Does Not Increase Chance of Recurrence

Posted By on July 11th, 2017 at 3:07 pm | 0 comments.

Having a child after breast cancer treatment does not make you more likely to have a recurrence, researchers say. According to a recent study presented at the 2017 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Conference. Researchers profiled more than 1,200 women under the age of 50 who were diagnosed with non-metastatic breast cancer before 2008. More than 300 of the women who participated became pregnant following treatment. The research team then matched each patient who became pregnant with three patients who had similar cancer characteristics, but did not become pregnant. After 10 years from the diagnosis, the research team found no difference in recurrence rate between women who became pregnant and those who did not.

Many survivors with ER-positive cancer are concerned with the need to stop post-surgery hormone therapy before they try to get pregnant (therapy that helps to prevent recurrence). Researchers recommend patients speak with their doctors when determining how long to wait before becoming pregnant if they receive hormone therapy.

Want to learn more? Read the complete study, click here.

Diagnostic vs. Screening Mammograms: What’s the Difference?

Posted By on October 31st, 2016 at 11:42 am | 0 comments.


According to the National Cancer Institute, diagnostic mammography takes longer than screening mammography because more x-rays are needed to obtain views of the breast from several angles. The technician may magnify a suspicious area to produce a detailed picture that can help the doctor make an accurate diagnosis.

Women diagnosed with breast cancer are given a diagnostic mammogram for several years following their diagnosis even if they no longer have symptoms.

Cutting Out Chemo? Genetic Test Could Reduce Need for Chemotherapy Among Some Breast Cancer Patients

Posted By on September 1st, 2016 at 9:35 am | 0 comments.

Cutting chemo for PLResearchers say they have found a gene that could cut chemo for some breast cancer patients. According to the European study, published in New England Journal of Medicine, a test called MammaPrint that examines 70 genes can determine whether a patient is high or low risk for recurrence. Researchers studied a group of 1,500 women with breast cancer that had not spread to the lymph nodes.  One group of women considered high risk based on the genetic testing received chemo. The other group, deemed low risk, did not. After 5 years, scientists say survival rates for the two groups were similar. The women who did not receive chemo had a 95 percent survival rate.

According to the findings, nearly half of women with breast cancer who are classified as high risk based on clinical factors may not need chemo. Researchers say, however, the choice to include chemotherapy as part of a treatment regimen remains an individualized decision between doctors and patients. To read more on this study, click here.

In Depth: PA’s Oral Parity Law for Cancer Treatment

Posted By on September 1st, 2016 at 9:31 am | 0 comments.

oral parity law for PL with logo 2Guest author: Kim Kockler, Independence Blue Cross

On July 8, 2016, House Bill 60 was signed into law by Governor Wolf as Act 73.  The legislation requires health insurance companies to provide coverage for oral chemotherapy medications or impose cost sharing on a no less favorable basis than intravenous (IV) or injected chemotherapy medications for cancer patients. The new law is intended to establish a level of parity for patients regardless of the type of cancer chemotherapy medication they are being prescribed – oral medication or injected medication. It is important for consumers to understand the practical implications of the new law. The following are some points to keep in mind:

•    The legislation applies only if a health insurance policy already includes coverage for IV or injected chemotherapy medications that are FDA-approved.

•    Under the law, insurers are prohibited from increasing cost sharing for chemotherapy medications for the purpose of avoiding complying with the law. Cost sharing examples include a co-payment, coinsurance or other out-of-pocket expense a consumer may have as required under their health insurance policy.

•    Oral chemotherapy medications may be subject to a health insurance plan’s prior authorization requirements. This means that the health insurance plan may require the provider who is treating the patient to get prior approval from the health insurance company before medication is dispensed to the patient. The law allows the health insurance company to consider both the medical necessity and cost of the oral chemotherapy medication in comparison to IV or injected chemotherapy medication when making a prior authorization determination.

•    The specific number and type of oral chemotherapy medications that are covered may vary by insurer and type of health plan.

It is also important to note which types of health insurance plans fall under the new law and the effective date. Act 73 applies to health insurance plans purchased by individuals as well as fully-insured small and large group plans offered by employers. The Act does not apply to self-funded plans. For those with insurance provided by their employer, it is best to check with the employer to inquire if the health insurance plan is self-funded.

The new law is effective for plans issued or renewed on or after January 8, 2017 for fully-insured large group health plans.  For individual and small group plans, Act 73 is effective on or after January 1, 2018.
It is recommended that consumers check with their health insurance company to determine specifically how the new law applies to their particular coverage.

Issues Important to YOU: Lymphedema Supplies and Surprise Expenses

Posted By on May 10th, 2016 at 4:23 pm | 0 comments.


by Pat Halpin-Murphy, President and Founder

After breast cancer surgery, about 20% of women develop some lymphedema, a painful chronic swelling of the arm following removal of lymph nodes. It can develop within days or many years after treatment. There is no known cure for lymphedema and treatment focuses on reducing the swelling and pain. Lymphedema bandages, sleeves, and compression garments offer the best relief. However, those products are not currently covered by Medicare or many insurers and are very costly for a woman who might need to pay out-of-pocket for them.

The PA Breast Cancer Coalition wants to help change that, and you can help make that change happen. If you are on Medicare and found they didn’t cover the garments and sleeves you needed, and were surprised to find that you had to pay for them out-of-pocket … we want to hear from you! Your personal story can make a difference in our efforts.

Tell your story to the PBCC at, send a letter to PA Breast Cancer Coalition, 2397 Quentin Road, Suite B, Lebanon, PA 17042, or call 1-800-377-8828 x3020 to share your experiences with Medicare coverage for lymphedema supplies.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Lower Breast Cancer Risk in Obese, Postmenopausal Women

Posted By on April 14th, 2016 at 12:16 pm | 0 comments.

Omega-3-fatty-acidsObesity can be a major cause of breast cancer in postmenopausal women, but omega-3 fatty acids have the potential to lower that risk. A study done by Andrea Manni, professor and division chief of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism, Penn State College of Medicine, showed protection comes from the anti-inflammatory effects from the fatty acid.

Breast density is a breast cancer risk. Manni’s team, in addition to researchers from Emory University and Colorado State University examined the influence of prescription omega-3 supplements on breast density in women of various weights. It is believed that women who are of a higher breast density are more likely to develop breast cancer. Researchers found that increasing the level of omega-3 acids in blood was connected with reduced breast density in women bordering obesity with a body mass index above 29. With this research, a personalized approach to breast cancer prevention can be established.

Learn more about this study.