Best of Breast: news for week ending 12 September 2014

The latest medical news in Breast Cancer and Cancer from Google Alerts, for the week ending 12 September 2014.

Wahey, it’s the week of the American Society of Oncology Symposium!  As usual it’s yielded the results of new trials or new research into cancer treatments.  Yet I’ve chosen to lead with another article on cancer-sniffing dogs.  Why is this?

While I appreciate what modern science is doing to prolong life and achieve remission, these treatments or diagnoses come with side-effects and long-term issues.  The research is also very technical and full of stats – nothing to touch the heart there.

So whenever I see a new method of detection that is simplicity in itself and with minimal side-effects, I cheer!  In previous posts I’ve covered how dogs have miraculously detected cancer in their owners.  There are also organisations that are now investigating how dogs detect cancer.  If you do not have cancer and would like to volunteer to provide a breath sample, please contact the number in the article.

As a layman, I’m interested in prevention, and things that I can do to help prevent or keep the cancer in remission, for example, diet – hence the article which implies that soy is dangerous for women with breast cancer, and another on how a probiotic, lactobacillus plantarum may help prevent cancer.

Another subject that is close to my heart is oncolytic virotherapthy, harnessing the body’s own immune system to fight the cancer.  In May this year, I posted about a woman with Stage 4 multiple myeloma who was went into remission thanks to a specially-engineered  measles vaccine.  She now has a blog, Let’s Go Viral.  Please note that this is not a cure-all – there was another patient who had the vaccine at the same time and did not go into remission.  Interestingly, the side-effects from the measles vaccine resembled those of Removab (a tri-functional antibody) – fever, shivering, headaches – but possibly more severe.

04/09/14 Medical Detection Dogs feature - Great Horwood

Daisy the Dog, awaiting for instruction at the testing centre

1.  Medical Detection Dogs need volunteers (without breast cancer) for the first ever canine breast cancer detection trail

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Best of Breast: news for week ending 22 August 2014

Updated 16 September 2014

The weekly summary of medical news developments for Breast Cancer and Cancer for the week ending 21 August 2014.

This post focuses on screening.  Call it coincidence, but there were three articles on different ways to screen for breast cancer, this week.  The first is a trial into using dogs to sniff out breast cancer. I’ve covered dogs being used to sniff out cancer in previous posts, but this time, scientists are finally testing this on breast cancer.  Perhaps one day the gold standard in screening could be a golden labrador!

Dog

Dr Claire Guest and Daisy Photo: Janine Warwick

Item number 2 is a study that shows that MRIs are more accurate than ultrasound and mammogram in detecting recurrent tumours.  I wonder how MRIs compare to Pet-CTs in terms of radiation exposure.  There is no ionizing radiation in an MRI.  The dose for a typical PET-CT scan is 25 mSv for a 70-kg person.  The dose for a mammogram is 0.4 to 0.7 mSv.  The PET-CT gives 625 times more radiation.  CT scans alone produce 7 mSV, 10 to 15 times the dose of a mammogram.

RadiationDoseChart

From http://xkcd.com/radiation/. With thanks to Steve for this chart.

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Best of Breast: news for week ending 6 June 2014

The weekly aggregation from Google Alerts, for articles on Breast Cancer and Cancer, for the week ending 6 June 2014.

ChristmasMorning

Just some of the goodies at the American Society for Clinical Oncology conference 2014

It was a bit like Christmas morning unwrapping the presents that was the American Society for Clinical Oncology’s conference that was held 2 weeks’ ago.  It’s made for an extra-long Best of Breast (which is also a week late – sorry!).

There was fantastic new research into treatment-resistant breast cancer, HER-2 positive breast cancer and TNBC; however, what stands out is the first step to developing an immunotherapy approach to breast cancer by combining cryoablation and Ipilimumab (an immune stimulant that is already being used in melanomas).  Cryoablation breaks the tumour down and Ipilimumab allows the immune system to recognise the cancer cells.

The irony is that cryoablation is something I looked into shortly after my diagnosis, but I was told by my surgeon that it wouldn’t guarantee clean margins.  Well … what surgeons also don’t tell you is that clean margins will not guarantee the cancer won’t come back.  I’ve seen people who’ve had mastectomies who’ve had with recurrences (even with radiotherapy and chemotherapy to mop up) in the scar tissue.  So clean margins my foot.  There are no guarantees with surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy.  The medical establishment is conservative and playing a numbers game and it’s us patients who are being kept in the dark.

I think one of the drawbacks of doing Best of Breast is that I read about all these wonderful new developments and all I can think is:  why didn’t they come up with this 2 years’ ago, or why didn’t I do this 2 years ago?  Why are my clinicians stuck in the dark ages?  And I think of all my friends who’ve passed on, and I hope that a cure comes soon for all of us with cancer.

To cheer myself up, the lead article is about the blind mole rat.  I’d posted previously about the naked mole rat which is cancer-resistant, now there’s the blind mole rat (not related!) which has the same superhuman anti-cancer properties.  Scientists have decoded its genes and discovered the secret of how it never gets cancer.  The next step is to work out how to turn us all into blind mole rats … .

BlindMoleRat

See how they run … (The furry-but-blind blind mole rat (Spalax) is a close cousin to the common house mouse.) Image credit: bbc

1.  Cancer-resistant blind mole rat gets genome sequence

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