Archive for May, 2008

FROM breastcancer.org

All types of breast cancer surgery have a risk of side effects. Some may last for a few weeks — or a few years — after surgery. You may wonder if side effects such as tingling or tightness are normal, whether or not you can continue regular activities if you’re at risk for lymphedema, or if scar tissue formation might affect reconstruction decisions. So, how do you manage these and other issues after surgery?

On Wednesday, May 21st, Kristin Brill, M.D., F.A.C.S. and Linda Miller, P.T., D.P.T. answered your questions about short-term and long-term side effects of breast surgery, and what you can do about them.

If you missed our online conference, you can read the transcript here:


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In the mid-1980s I was sitting in a meeting with about 15 other women who were working together on a variety of programs.  I had just finished reading somewhere that women had a one in 15 chance of getting breast cancer during their lifetime.  I remember looking around the room and wondering which one of us it would be.  I never thought it would be me.

When I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma in 2007, that lifetime risk had changed to one in eight.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, excluding cancers of the skin. More than 2 million women are living with the disease. In 2007, breast cancer will account for nearly one out of every four cancer diagnoses in women.

An estimated 178,480 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in 2007. This number does not include cases of carcinoma in situ. An estimated 62,030 new cases of breast carcinoma in situ will be diagnosed in 2007. Of these, 85% will be ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS).

If every woman lived to age 85, one out of eight women in the United States would develop breast cancer by that time—a “lifetime” risk that was one out of 14 in 1980. A new breast cancer case is diagnosed every 2.2 minutes.

From Breast Cancer ActionThe Facts and Nothing but the Facts

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From Our Bodies Our Blog

Our Bodies Our Blog has invited the folks at Breast Cancer Action  to write monthly guest posts on breast cancer and related issues. We welcome their first entry!

by Pauli Ojea

In the late 1980s, a group of women in a breast cancer support group decided it was time for change. These women, who met regularly to share information and to support each other through their experiences, felt there was more they could do, more they needed to do. Frustrated by the lack of reliable information about the disease and the lack of support most women with breast cancer received, they wanted to change the situation for all women facing breast cancer.

So, in a San Francisco living room in 1990, the women set out to do something about it: They formed Breast Cancer Action (BCA).

Their goal was to move breast cancer from an individual woman’s private medical crisis to a public health emergency. The founders put their political know-how, passion and courage to work in order to bring national attention to what was then a rarely mentioned issue.

Fast-forward to 2008. BCA is now a national education and advocacy organization with 19,000 members, a 10-person staff, and hundreds of activists and volunteers in the United States and abroad.

Although breast cancer has received a lot of attention, the problem has not been fixed. And BCA is still here to help change things. Sadly, all but one of the original founders have passed away, but the vision set for the organization almost 20 years ago lives on.

BCA continues to work for change on the political and social issues that have a significant impact on this disease. One of BCA’s biggest priorities is advocating for more effective, less toxic treatments for breast cancer patients. Central to this work is the role of the FDA — the agency that can help, or hinder, the adoption of these treatments.  More

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May 14, 2008
Surviving breast cancer ‘is not enough,’ warns Breast Cancer Campaign

Breast Cancer Campaign’s Scientific Conference — Breast Cancer Research 2008

Women are living longer after breast cancer but simply surviving is not enough, Pamela Goldberg, Chief Executive, Breast Cancer Campaign, said today.

Speaking at the second Breast Cancer Campaign Scientific Conference in London, Pamela Goldberg outlined how earlier diagnosis, new treatments, and increased awareness of symptoms has resulted in breast cancer moving towards becoming a chronic but controllable condition.

“The picture is completely different for women today than in the 70’s”, Pamela Goldberg told a conference of around 300 delegates today.

“Thirty years ago only half of women with breast cancer survived for more than five years. Today that figure is around 80 per cent.

“However, some of these treatments like radiotherapy and chemotherapy have toxic and debilitating side effects which have a profound impact on their quality of life, every single day. This may partly explain why breast cancer still remains the biggest health fear for women.”

Fatigue, body image and early menopause leading to childlessness are just some of the problems faced by breast cancer survivors that can have a real impact on their psychological well-being. In some cases fatigue is so severe that giving up work can seem the only option, according to the charity.

Carefully targeted research will play an important role in improving quality of life and problems faced by women after breast cancer. Key research gaps and priorities for the greatest potential impact on patients have already been identified and projects to fill the gaps are being funded by Breast Cancer Campaign. . . .Article

SOURCE: BioMed Central

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Because I live in a remote rural area, I rely on the Internet for news and information. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I needed a lot of information fast in order to make a decision about what to do.  But I hesitated about getting this information online because I didn’t know how reliable it would be.

This article discusses a study on breast cancer web sites.

Most Breast Cancer Sites Get It Right

The Internet is filled with unreliable health information and bogus claims. But sites dedicated to breast cancer information appear to have a high level of accuracy, a new study shows.  Article

Some of the web sites that I have relied on for information and support are


Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation (specific to this type of cancer)

Y-me, which now has a cumbersome new name, “Breast Cancer Network of Strength”

National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship

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Every cancer patient should talk to his or her doctor about lymphedema, and ask about monitoring and early detection, as well as baseline measurements of limb volume before treatment. In addition to being monitored for lymphedema, patients need to know that even minor overuse of an affected limb, such as carrying a heavy bag or typing for hours on a keyboard, can trigger the swelling.

This article outlines why any cancer patient who has had lymph nodes removed should be on a lymphadema prevention screening program.  Read the article to find out what to talk to ask your doctor.l

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Yesterday I wrote a post about “things I did wrong” which included not going to the doctor to check out a lump and not having an annual mammogram.  Today I saw this article in the New York Times:

A survey of 500 cancer survivors found that more than half of them delayed seeking treatment for two months or more despite having symptoms of their disease.

The report, from the Tower Cancer Research Foundation in Los Angeles, found that the biggest reason people waited to see a doctor was because they were simply waiting to see if symptoms disappeared. However, 15 percent of respondents waited one to five years after their symptoms appeared before finally seeking medical advice.

About a third of patients said it was just procrastination that delayed their diagnosis. But 13 percent said they were afraid of what the doctor might find, while 12 percent were stymied by insurance woes.

Because the data come from cancer survivors, it’s not clear how much it reflects the real world, where many people may die as a result of delays in seeking a diagnosis.

“Hope, fear, procrastination and lack of medical insurance were all powerful forces preventing people from going to see a doctor,’’ said Dr. Solomon Hamburg, president of the foundation. “Those surveyed were cancer survivors, but many people who delay going to a doctor for long periods of time for a diagnosis are not as fortunate. Early detection raises the bar considerably on our ability to help those in need.”  Article

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