Archive for the ‘Medical’ Category

Study: Women with Early-Stage Breast Cancer May Not Need Chemotherapy

Posted By on June 5th, 2018 at 9:36 am | 0 comments.

According to a recent study, thousands of women with early-stage breast cancer do not need chemotherapy as part of their treatment regimen. The results of the largest ever breast cancer treatment trial, the TAILORx study, were published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers say the trial found evidence that 70 percent of early-stage breast cancer patients will receive no benefit from chemotherapy. The article goes on to say those patients would effectively be treated with endocrine therapy alone. The data indicated that some women 50 and younger might benefit from chemo even if gene-test results suggested otherwise. It is not clear why.

“This is a game-changer. It’s truly groundbreaking. Now, thousands of women will not have to undergo toxic chemotherapy treatment with its unwanted side effects,” said PBCC President and Founder Pat Halpin-Murphy. “The results of this clinical trial will change the way oncologists treat breast cancer every day here in Pennsylvania and across the country.”

In order to conduct the TAILORx study, researchers examined results of the Genomic Health Oncotype DX test which provides a score for the patient’s risk of recurrence. The clinical trial found that, in patients who received a score of 11 to 25, chemotherapy was not necessary. Investigators conducted gene tests on tumor samples to identify women who could skip chemo and take drugs like tamoxifen that block estrogen or stop the body from producing estrogen (endocrine therapy). Drugs like tamoxifen have been proven to reduce the risk of recurrence in breast cancer survivors.

Today, 37 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in Pennsylvania, and 140,000 PA women are currently living with the disease. Early-stage breast cancer makes up half of all breast cancer diagnoses.

CLICK HERE to read the complete New England Journal of Medicine article.

 

NEW Recommendations for Breast Cancer Screening

Posted By on May 11th, 2018 at 1:32 pm | 0 comments.

 

If you are considered at higher-than-average risk for breast cancer or you have dense breast tissue, the American College of Radiology (ACR) now recommends you get an annual screening MRI in addition to a mammogram. The new recommendations, published on DenseBreast-Info.org and in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, call for MRI if a woman is considered high risk.
The ACR continues its previous recommendations, supporting MRI beginning at age 25 for women with a BRCA1 mutation.

Women are considered high-risk if they:

  • Have dense breast tissue
  • Have a family history of breast cancer
  • Have been diagnosed with breast cancer by age 50

The American College of Radiology also recommends that all women, especially black women and those of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, be evaluated for breast cancer risk no later than age 30 so that a “higher risk can be identified and [the woman] can benefit from supplemental screening.”

    

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.

Pink-Link-Test-Mammogram

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.