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Imaginis.com Breast Health Newsletter

December 16, 1999 - Volume 1, Issue 5

Comprehensive Information of Breast Cancer and Breast Health Issues


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1.  In the News:
- New Chemotherapy Drug, Docetaxel, Could Benefit Breast Cancer Patients...
Researchers have reported that women with advanced breast cancer may benefit more from chemotherapy with the drug docetaxel (brand name, Taxotere) before breast surgery than from standard chemotherapy. In a clinical trial with 163 women, researchers discovered that women who were treated with docetaxel in addition to breast surgery and drug treatment with tamoxifen had a significantly higher treatment response rate compared with women who did not receive docetaxel. The results of the trial reveal that docetaxel should be considered for advanced breast cancer patients who receive chemotherapy as part of their treatment.

- Breast Cancer Survivors to Climb Japan’s Mount Fuji...
The Breast Cancer Fund, a non-profit organization devoted to increasing awareness and raising funds for breast cancer research, recently announced that several breast cancer survivors will attempt a third mountain climbing expedition set for August 2000. 'Climb Against the Odds Mt. Fuji' will bring together 55 climbers from the United States including breast cancer physicians, researchers, activists, survivors, and men and women who have lost loved ones to breast cancer. A documentary of the second climb on Mount McKinley was recently aired on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS).

- Daily Alcohol Consumption May Increase Breast Cancer Risk...
The results of a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association reveal that women who drink alcohol are at higher risk of developing breast cancer compared to nondrinkers. Women who consumed two to five alcoholic beverages each day were found to have a 41% increased risk of developing invasive breast cancer compared to women who do not drink. The results of the study apply to women who consume alcohol on a daily basis as opposed to women who occasionally drink.

2. Learning About Tamoxifen
In late 1998, tamoxifen became the first drug to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent breast cancer after research showed it reduced the chances of developing breast cancer by 50% in women at high risk. Tamoxifen is a drug taken orally in pill form that has been shown to help prevent the original breast cancer from returning after breast surgery, while also hindering the development of new cancers in the opposite breast. For nearly twenty years, physicians have prescribed tamoxifen to help treat patients with advanced breast cancer. More recently, tamoxifen has been used to treat early stage breast cancer after breast surgery (lumpectomy or mastectomy).

3. Questions and Answers about Cancer Clinical Trials
A clinical trial is an organized research study conducted with people to find new methods to prevent, detect, diagnose, or treat cancer. In some instances, clinical trials attempt to improve a patient’s quality of life. When studying cancer treatment, researchers conducting a clinical trial attempt to determine whether a new method of treatment is superior to the standard (currently approved) treatment of the ailment. This article addresses some of the common questions concerning clinical trials.

4. Understanding Sentinel Node Biopsy
Sentinel node biopsy is a new diagnostic procedure used to determine whether breast cancer has spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body. Sentinel node biopsy can eliminate the need to remove all of the underarm lymph nodes when staging breast cancer, resulting in less pain and complications versus traditional axillary lymph node dissection. Many surgeons perform sentinel node biopsy to avoid having to remove 10 to 30 lymph nodes in patients whose breast cancer is suspected to have spread.

5. Mammography Facilities Must Meet Quality Standards
On April 28, 1999, the final comprehensive regulations for mammography facilities went into effect. The regulations were developed by the FDA and the National Mammography Quality Assurance Advisory Committee and approved by President Clinton. Mammography facilities are now required to provide patients with written results of their mammograms in easy-to-understand language within 30 days of the mammogram. Patients may also obtain their original mammogram (not a copy) from the facility so they may compare the results with previous mammograms. This report outlines these MQSA regulations.

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