Caring for a wife with breast cancer can have a measurable negative effect on men's health, even years after the cancer diagnosis and completion of treatment, according to recent research. Men who reported the highest levels of stress in relation to their wives' cancer were at the highest risk for physical symptoms and weaker immune responses, the study showed. The researchers sought to determine the health effects of a recurrence of breast cancer on patients' male caregivers, but found that how stressed the men were about the cancer had a bigger influence on their health than did the current status of their wives' disease. The findings imply that clinicians caring for breast cancer patients could help their patients by considering the caregivers' health as well, the researchers say. This care could include screening caregivers for stress symptoms and encouraging them to participate in stress management, relaxation or other self-care activities, said Sharla Wells-Di Gregorio, lead author of the study and assistant professor of psychiatry and psychology at Ohio State University.
Adding trastuzumab (trade name Herceptin ) to the treatment offered to women who have HER2-positive breast cancer, significantly increases the chance of life being prolonged, and reduces the chance of tumours reappearing once therapy stops. This is important, because about one-fifth of women who develop early breast cancer have HER2-positive tumours that, if untreated, are associated with a worse outlook than HER2-negative tumours. At the same time, however, women given trastuzumab have a higher risk of experiencing problems with their heart. These findings are the key conclusions of a systematic review published in The Cochrane Library. Breast cancer is the most common diagnosed cancer in women. There are different types of breast cancer cells, but one feature is whether the tumour's cells produce excess quantities of a particular protein called the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2).
Researchers at the University of Hull in the UK have identified a family of proteins that could potentially be used as biomarkers to predict resistance to chemotherapy in estrogen receptor-positive (ER-positive) breast cancer patients. In an "in press" issue of their study published online in the Journal of Proteomics on 3 April, lead researcher Dr Lynn Cawkwell and colleagues explain how they discovered a number of potential biomarkers for resistance to epirubicin, docetaxel and other chemo drugs. Resistance to chemotherapy is a big problem in the treatment of some types of cancer. Without a means to predict whether chemo will work, some patients with resistant cancers undergo much hardship: suffering the side effects of ineffective chemo options without the benefits, plus they lose valuable time until an effective therapy is found.
Mayo Clinic researchers have discovered a new class of molecular mutation in various forms of breast cancer, a finding that may shed new light on development and growth of different types of breast tumors. Called fusion transcripts, the mutated forms of RNA may also provide a way to identify tumor subtypes and offer new strategies to treat them, investigators say. Their study, published in Cancer Research, is the first to systematically search for fusion genes and fusion transcripts linked to different types of breast tumors. Oncologists currently recognize three basic types of breast tumors - estrogen-receptor (ER)-positive, HER2-positive, and triple negative. "But breast cancer is much more complex than indicated by these three subtypes, and one of the challenges of treating the disease is to identify gene markers that predict how a tumor will respond to a specific treatment, " says senior investigator Edith Perez, M.
Women undergoing treatment for breast cancer might fight off distressing side effects and improve psychological well-being by staying off the couch. According to the University of Miami (UM) study, women who are physically active during treatment have less depression and an enhanced quality of life and report less debilitating fatigue. "Women who are physically active may also have more confidence in their own ability to continue with family-related, household, work-related, or social activities, which bring meaning and satisfaction to their lives, " says Jamie M. Stagl, M.S., doctoral student in Clinical Health Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences at UM and lead author of the study. "This may lead to appraisals of lower fatigue, heightened quality of life, and less depression.