News | September 19, 2014

2014 Breast Cancer Symposium Highlighted Research Advances in Prevention, Screening, Therapy

September 19, 2014 — Five presentations from the 2014 Breast Cancer Symposium in San Francisco earlier this month focused on new studies exploring preventive mastectomy, compliance with recommended screening mammography and risk of recurrence after pre-surgery therapy for breast cancer.

Some brief summaries:

Angelina Jolie's Story May Have Helped Double BRCA Testing Rates at a Canadian Cancer Center: A new study shows that Angelina Jolie's public announcement and resulting media coverage of her decision to undergo a preventive mastectomy due to her BRCA mutation status likely drove an almost doubling of genetic referrals, testing and detection of BRCA mutation carriers at a Canadian academic center over a six-month period.

Breast Cancer Surgery and Reconstruction Complications Are Rare, Though Double Mastectomy Has Higher Risk of Certain Complications Compared to Single Mastectomy: A large study assessing 30-day complications after breast surgery with reconstruction in more than 18,000 women with breast cancer found that complications from either bilateral or unilateral mastectomy with reconstruction are infrequent, but women who undergo the bilateral procedure have higher rates of implant loss and need for transfusion, and typically have a longer hospital stay.

Survey Reveals Factors Influencing Women to Consider Preventive Double Mastectomy: A survey conducted among 150 women newly diagnosed with breast cancer at two Chicago hospitals finds that women who opted for contralateral prophylactic mastectomy tended to have higher levels of anxiety but less knowledge about the actual likelihood of breast cancer recurrence compared to women who did not consider or want the procedure.

A Simple Intervention Improves Return Rates for Women Overdue for Screening Mammography: A large Canadian study found that simply adding a letter signed by the primary care doctor to standard postcard reminders increased the odds of a women returning for mammogram screening.

Response to Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy and Tumor Subtype Are Strong Predictors of Loco-regional Breast Cancer Recurrence: A large study provided new insight on the factors affecting loco-regional breast cancer recurrence in women treated with chemotherapy before surgery. The findings could help to better identify women who may benefit from receiving radiotherapy after surgery to reduce the risk of recurrence.

"Understanding what motivates our patients to get testing or make treatment choices is critical to us as oncologists for providing the highest quality of care," said Harold Burstein, M.D., Ph.D., from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. "The studies featured today provide crucial insight into patient decision-making and advance our knowledge of post-treatment risk of recurrence and complications."

For more information:

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