Whether it was discovered during a breast self-exam or incidentally as you were putting on your deodorant, finding a breast lump can be terrifying. Somehow it seems human nature for us to think the worst when we find a mass or lump anywhere there should not be one. Both the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society provide some peace of mind by noting that most breast lumps are not cancer. In fact, there are a whole host of more common and benign (non-cancerous) conditions that can cause lumps in the breast including collections of fluid, deposits of fat, and deposits of calcium.
But once found, do not wait, thinking the mass will go away on its own. Make sure to notify your healthcare provider. If you are having any difficulty moving your arms or have uncontrolled pain or redness/swelling in the breast, you should contact your care Continue reading →
2014 was another year of discovery and innovation at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center as we work toward our goal of conquering cancer. Here are summaries of select clinical, laboratory and population collaborations by Cancer Center members that will benefit cancer patients everywhere:
March 25, 2014: 25% of breast cancer survivors report financial decline due to treatment, and the financial impact varied greatly by race. “As oncologists, we are proud of the advances in our ability to cure an increasing proportion of patients diagnosed with breast cancer. But as treatments improve, we must ensure that we do not leave these patients in financial ruin because of our efforts,” says study author Reshma Jagsi, M.D., D.Phil. In a second study, Dr. Jagsi found Continue reading →
Radiation oncologist Reshma Jagsi, M.D., D.Phil., consults with a patient
Mounting evidence finds that delivering higher doses of radiation per treatment is as effective in some breast cancer patients as a traditional course where smaller doses are given over a longer time period. The new method, called hypofractionation, involves about 3-4 weeks of daily radiation treatments, instead of the usual 5-week or longer course.
But several newly published studies have found that hypofractionated radiation is not widely used.
Reshma Jagsi, M.D., D.Phil., associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan, led two of these studies. Looking at a national database of patients, she and her colleagues found that hypofractionation was used in only 13.6% of Medicare patients with breast cancer. In Michigan, Jagsi’s other study found, fewer than one-third of patients who fit the criteria for offering this approach got the shorter course of treatment. Continue reading →
New guidelines released this week can help people being treated for breast cancer determine what complementary therapies help relieve side effects of treatment or improve quality of life. The evidence-based guidelines were sponsored by the Society for Integrative Oncology.
We talked to Suzanna M. Zick, N.D., M.P.H., associate professor of family medicine and environmental health sciences at the University of Michigan. Dr. Zick was part of the guidelines panel and begins a one-year term this week as president of the Society for Integrative Oncology.
The PALB2 gene, which is also called the partner and localizer of BRCA2, is a gene that contributes to inherited susceptibility to breast cancer and perhaps ovarian and pancreatic cancers. The PALB2 gene contains the directions for making a protein that acts together with the BRCA2 protein. When they are functioning normally, these two genes work together as tumor suppressors.
How does cancer start at the genetic level?
Most cancers occur when two mutations in a tumor suppressor gene occur in a single cell during a person’s lifetime. Some individuals inherit an altered copy of a tumor suppressor gene. If a second mutation occurs in the tumor suppressor gene in any cell of their body, a tumor may develop. Since they already have an altered tumor suppressor gene in all of the cells of their body, individuals with an inherited mutation in a tumor suppressor gene are more likely to develop cancer.
Cancer due to an inherited alteration in a tumor suppressor gene is more likely to occur at a younger age (for example, Continue reading →
Cancer treatment is hard on your body and, in some cases, changes are permanent. Sometimes cancer patients become so focused on getting rid of their cancer, they don’t bring up body image issues with their oncologists. In writing Body Image Matters, a patient story in Thrive, I learned they should.
Sherry Hansen is a breast cancer survivor, 14 years and counting. She had surgery to remove her breast, but didn’t have time to think about reconstructive surgery at the time of her diagnosis. She had a 3-year-old daughter to take care of. Sherry described to me in detail the way she felt the first time she looked in the mirror when her bandages were removed. No one had prepared her for the change in her body. No one was there when she saw it for the first time.
This should never happen to a patient and, were Sherry diagnosed at the U-M Cancer Center, perhaps her emotional response would have been different. By the time she came to U-M, depression had set in. She’s doing great now, but it was a long road to recovery. Continue reading →
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