Five Myths about Breast Cancer

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 23, 2014

Talk to your doctor to avoid misinformation about breast cancer.

Cancer experts from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute work together to provide cancer patients the latest therapies, including access to innovative clinical trials through Brigham and Women’s/Dana-Farber Cancer Center.  Today’s post originally appeared on Insight, the blog of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

There’s a broad range of news and information about breast cancer online. That creates wonderful opportunities to learn about prevention, treatment, cures, and recurrence. But it also means you may run into confusing misinformation and oversimplifications.

Here are some popular misconceptions:

MYTH #1

Most breast cancer is hereditary. While it’s true that a woman’s risk factor for developing breast cancer doubles if a first-degree relative has the disease, this statistic doesn’t tell the whole story.

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Getting the Whole Picture: 3-D Mammography Improves Breast Cancer Detection

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital May 28, 2013

3-D mammography, compared to traditional imaging, offers a clearer view of breast tissue.

Why are radiologists so enthusiastic about 3-D mammography (digital breast tomosynthesis), a new imaging technology for diagnosing breast cancer?

The simple answer is that it could help save thousands of lives each year.

3-D mammography, compared to traditional two-dimensional imaging, offers a clearer view of the dense tissue within a woman’s breast. Specifically, it enables radiologists to see tumors when they are very small and differentiate them from abnormalities that look like tumors but are usually benign, such as micro-calcifications (calcium deposits) or cysts. When radiologists are able to identify malignant tumors at this early stage, it usually means that the cancer has been found before it has spread to other parts of the body.

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Understanding Breast Radiation Therapy and Heart Disease

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital May 22, 2013

The image above shows how holding a deep breath (deep inspiration) protects the heart from radiation by moving it away from the chest wall.

The following post originally appeared on Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Insight blog.

A recent study by Oxford University researchers reported that, although radiation therapy is a critical tool for the treatment of women with breast cancer, it also can raise their risk of a heart attack or heart disease later in life. The study was based on a review of medical records of 2,168 women in Sweden and Denmark who received radiation therapy for breast cancer between 1958 and 2001, and who were under age 70 at the time.

News coverage of the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, has drawn attention to the heart risks associated with radiation therapy, even as it underscores such therapy’s role in improving survival rates for breast cancer patients.

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Reducing Repeat Surgeries after Breast Cancer

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital January 30, 2013

Surgical oncologist Mehra Golshan, MD, (left) and members of the AMIGO team perform a practice run of a lumpectomy procedure on Nov. 15, 2012.

When Jane Davis was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2012, she began learning as much as she could about the disease. Davis quickly discovered one of the most startling statistics about breast cancer — that up to 40 percent of women in the U.S. who undergo a lumpectomy to remove a tumor require a second surgery. That’s because surgeons often are unable to microscopically remove the entire tumor during the first surgery.

Dr. Mehra Golshan, Director of Breast Surgical Services at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, is trying to change that with his research using image-guided therapy, available through the Advanced Multimodality Image Guided Operating (AMIGO) suite at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, to perform more precise breast surgeries.

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Breast Cancer: Turn Awareness into Action

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 17, 2012

To schedule a next-day mammogram appointment at Brigham and Women's/Mass General Health Care Center in Foxborough, call 1-866-378-9164 today.

In case you haven’t noticed the preponderance of pink – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

To help raise awareness, baseball players wield pink bats, football players wear pink, thousands of men and women participate in fundraising walks, and health care organizations provide valuable information, such as our Kickoff to Better Health cancer awareness campaign.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American women. The National Cancer Institute estimates that more than 200,000 women and more than 2,000 men in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. The promising news is that most patients diagnosed with the disease at an early stage survive and continue to live normal lives, and a mammogram is an important tool for early detection.

It’s important to learn all you can about breast cancer – for you and those you love.

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NICU Redesigned with Families in Mind

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 4, 2016

As families step off the elevator and enter the newly redesigned Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), they walk through a welcoming open space with natural light and views of the outdoors.

Comforting and family-centered Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH)

Comforting and family-centered Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH)

Creating a comforting and family-centered environment is important in a unit that cares for premature infants, says Dr. Terri Gorman, a neonatologist and Co-Medical Director of the Newborn Intensive Care Unit, which cares for approximately 3,000 premature and sick infants and their families each year.

“Having a premature baby that needs special medical care can be stressful, and many of the parents who enter the NICU are first-time parents,” says Dr. Gorman, which is one of the reasons why the new facility offers a more open and welcoming environment for families and their babies.

After greeting a friendly unit coordinator at the front desk, families can walk from their baby’s room to the family lounge area or to the outdoor patio. With no restrictions on visitation, family members can also sleepover on the pull-out sofa in their infant’s room, and mothers can breastfeed in privacy and store milk in their room’s private refrigerator. Families can even attend daily rounds with the medical staff, if they want. Read More »

Who is Reading Your Mammogram?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 21, 2016

Radiology technician examens mammography test on location

When choosing a location for your mammogram, it is important to look for a center that performs a high volume of mammograms and has radiologists who are dedicated to breast imaging.

Approximately one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer during her lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are publishing a three-part Breast Imaging Series throughout October. Today’s post, the second in our series, discusses the importance of specialized training in reading mammograms.

When choosing a location for your mammogram, it is important to look for a center that performs a high volume of mammograms. Preferably, the radiologists in the center should be dedicated to breast imaging. Breast imaging specialists devote their time exclusively to breast imaging, including mammography, breast MRI, and breast ultrasound.

The detection of very subtle changes in early breast cancer can be very challenging. Studies have shown that radiologists specializing in breast imaging outperform non-specialist radiologists in detecting breast cancer.  Furthermore, the more mammograms and other breast images that radiologists read, the better they become at identifying these subtle changes, with higher accuracy. Read More »

Subscribe to Our Weekly Emails for Expectant Parents

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 20, 2016

Our new personalized e-newsletters are each timed to your week of pregnancy and your baby’s first months.

Pregnancy is an exciting time and a very special experience in the life of every family. At Brigham and Women’s Hospital, we provide many resources to help you have the healthiest pregnancy possible.

We offer two personalized e-newsletters – one on pregnancy and childbirth and another on breastfeeding – each timed to your week of pregnancy and your baby’s first months.

You can read your weekly e-newsletter on your smart phone, tablet, or computer. The e-newsletters are also available in multiple languages.

Subscribe today to our free e-newsletters or visit www.brighamandwomens.org/baby  to learn about other pregnancy resources. Your partner, family members, and friends can also subscribe to this service and share this exciting time with you.

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How Does Exercise Reduce Cancer Risk?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 13, 2016

Group Yoga Class in Studio

Researchers at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center are investigating the link between exercise and lower risk of cancer, including risk of cancer recurrence.

This much is known: A sedentary lifestyle raises the risk of cancer, while physical activity – even moderate exercise – can reduce the risk not only of developing cancer but having a recurrence following treatment. What’s not so clear is exactly why.

“It’s still a little unknown,” says Dr. Jeffrey Meyerhardt, co-director of the Colon and Rectal Cancer Center at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, who has studied the relationship of exercise and colorectal cancer risk. In a previous study, he and Charles Fuchs, MD, MPH, director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Center, reported that in patients with stage III colorectal cancer, more physical activity was associated with a lower risk of cancer recurrence and mortality.

According to Dr. Meyerhardt and other researchers, one way exercise can influence cancer risk is by lowering the amounts of insulin and insulin-like growth factors in the bloodstream. These hormones stimulate tumor cells to spread and survive despite the body’s attempts to kill abnormal cells. Studies show physical activity can directly reduce insulin levels, and research on this link is continuing. Jennifer Ligibel, MD, a Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center oncologist and director of the Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies, led a study in breast cancer patients that showed that participation in an exercise program led to a reduction in insulin levels in previously inactive breast cancer survivors.

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Can Pancreatic Cancer Be Inherited?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 1, 2016

3d rendered illustration of the male pancreas

Familial pancreatic cancer refers to families in which at least three members, or two or more individuals who are first-degree relatives of one another, have been diagnosed with the disease.

Most cases of pancreatic cancer develop for unknown reasons, but about 10 percent occur in families that have a strong history of the disease. That doesn’t mean that if you are a member of such a family you will develop pancreatic cancer, but rather that you are at a higher risk for it.

“Research has shown that familial pancreatic cancer is not as rare as we had thought,” says Dr. Matthew Yurgelun, a specialist in the Pancreas and Biliary Tumor Center and the Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center.

Pancreatic cancer, which is often deadly, is diagnosed in about 53,000 people in the United States each year. Factors such as older age, smoking, and obesity increase the risk.

Familial pancreatic cancer, or FPC, refers to families in which at least three members, or two or more individuals who are first-degree relatives (a parent, child, or sibling) of one another, have been diagnosed with the disease. Healthy individuals in such families have an increased risk of developing the cancer during their lifetimes – several times higher than the 1.3 percent lifetime risk for non-familial pancreatic cancer.

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