Study: Gene test validates NCCN guidelines on chemo for breast cancer

Some early stage patients can skip chemo

chemo for breast cancer
mCancerPartner interviewed Dan Hayes, M.D., clinical director of the Cancer Center’s breast oncology program. In late September 2015, investigators – including Dr. Hayes – showed that many women with early stage breast cancer can skip chemotherapy with good results, based on a gene test assessing which tumors were more likely to respond to chemotherapy. This study validates clinical recommendations in place since 2007 made by the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. Dr. Hayes served on both recommendation task forces and provided the following remarks on the origin of these recommendations.

mCancerPartner: How has the standard of care for women with the most common type of breast cancer (early stage, hormone positive, HER2 negative, not spread to lymph nodes) evolved over the years? Continue reading

Pathology 101: How a pathology report explains cancer

Pathology reports on suspected cancer say if a patient has a malignancy, type of cancer and if it has spread

mammary carcinoma

In a pathology report, the diagnosis section provides the location of the tumor, its type and grade, and size.

 

Chances are, the treatment plan for your cancer was determined by the results on a pathology report. Before your diagnosis, you probably had a biopsy or surgery where a doctor removed cells or tissue for study under a microscope. Specialists called pathologists spend their days viewing these samples, understanding how they look compared to normal cells and preparing reports which summarize the findings on each biopsy for oncologists and surgeons.

We spoke with Cancer Center pathologist, Celina Kleer, M.D., director of the Breast Pathology Division in the Department of Pathology,to find out the information contained in a report and how your oncologist uses it to decide the best course of treatment for your cancer. Continue reading

How genetic testing, precision medicine impact breast cancer treatment choices

Doctor holding X-ray film and woman in pink braAs cancer treatment focuses more and more on precision medicine and as genetic testing becomes more commonly available, what does it mean for patients as they consider their treatment options?

In a commentary published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers suggest that we must improve how genetic information is used to make breast cancer treatment decisions. The paper is authored by Steven Katz, M.D., M.P.H., Monica Morrow, M.D., and Allison Kurian, M.D., from the Cancer Surveillance and Outcomes Research Team, a multidisciplinary group of investigators at the forefront of understanding how women make decisions about breast cancer treatment. mCancerPartner talked with Dr. Katz about these issues. Continue reading

Casting call for CDC’s Bring Your Brave

Sharing your breast cancer story will empower and educate young women

Bring Your BraveAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, about 11% of new breast cancer cases in the United States are among women under the age of 45. Many young women at risk may not realize it.

Using what’s known in the theatrical world as a casting call, the CDC is looking for women of any age who meet certain criteria and are willing to share their story publicly. The resulting campaign, Bring Your Brave, will use personal stories to help empower and educate young women about breast cancer’s risks. The casting call will close on May 15, 2015. Continue reading

Conquering cancer through innovation and collaboration: the year in review

new-year2014 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
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Is your course of radiation treatment longer than it needs to be?

patient and doctor in an exam room

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