The largest study ever on the effect of genetic variability on the toxicity of chemotherapy in breast cancer shows that it is possible to predict which patients are most likely to suffer serious side effects, a researchertold the 8th European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC-8). Dr. Christof Vulsteke, from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, will explain how his team's research is an important step towards achieving a personalised chemotherapy regime for each patient. The researchers examined germline DNA from blood samples from 1089 breast cancer patients who were treated between 2000 and 2010 with three commonly used chemotherapy drugs (fluorouracil, epirubicin and cyclophosphamide). For each patient, the variability in the genes that are important for metabolising these three chemotherapeutic drugs was compared with the side effects experienced.
Significant Drop In Deaths, Limited Harm And Reasonable Costs Shown By 20-Year Results From Breast Cancer Screening Program
Results from one of the longest-running national breast cancer screening programmes have shown that it has contributed to a drop in deaths from the disease, that any harm caused by the screening, such as false positives and over-diagnosis, has been limited, and that the costs have been reasonable. The Dutch population-based mammography breast cancer screening programme began in 1989, and Mr Jacques Fracheboud, a senior researcher at the Erasmus University Medical Center (Rotterdam, The Netherlands), reported on the first 20 years to the eighth European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC-8). "Compared with the pre-screening period 1986 to 1988, deaths from breast cancer among women aged 55-79 fell by 31% in 2009, " said Mr Fracheboud. "We found there was a significant change in the annual increase in breast cancer deaths: before the screening programme began, deaths were increasing by 0.
Adding magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to standard breast cancer screening approaches is expensive, though it could be cost effective for a group of women who may not have inherited the breast cancer susceptibility genes, but who have a familial risk of developing the disease. This is the conclusion of research presented at the eighth European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC-8). Women who carry the BRCA1/2 gene mutations are known to be at much higher risk of developing breast cancer, and at an early age; for this reason most breast cancer screening programmes start examining them with mammography from a younger age than for the general population in order to reduce deaths from the disease in this high-risk group. The use of MRI in addition has been shown to be cost-effective for these women who carry the BRCA1/2 mutations or who have a 50% (or higher) risk of carrying it.
A Dutch study of the effectiveness of breast cancer screening shows that, even with improved treatments for the disease, population-based mammography programmes still save a significant number of lives. The finding, presented at the eighth European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC-8) in Vienna, will add further fuel to the debate about whether or not breast cancer screening does more harm than good. Those who argue against national screening programmes say that treatment for the disease is so effective nowadays that the chances of surviving it are as good as if the tumour had been detected via a national screening programme; they believe these programmes are bad for women because they can lead to unnecessary investigations, over-treatment and worry. However, Dutch researchers found that adjuvant therapy (treatment given in addition to primary therapy such as surgery) reduced deaths by an estimated 13.
Women diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) need clear communication and tailored support to enable them to understand this complex breast condition, which has divided the medical profession when it comes to its perception and prognosis. That is the key finding of a study published in the April issue of the Journal of Advanced Nursing. Research carried out at the University of the West of England, Bristol, UK, looked at how 45 women felt when they were diagnosed with DCIS and how their experiences changed over time. It found that many of the women were very confused about whether or not they had cancer and that medical staff often added to this confusion by providing conflicting messages. "DCIS is a non-invasive condition where the cancer cells are contained in the ducts of the breast" explains lead author Dr Fiona Kennedy, now a research fellow at Sheffield Hallam University.