Preventive Mastectomy Rates Increase despite Lack of Survival Benefit

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital March 31, 2016

Patients and caregivers should weigh the expected benefits with the potential risks of .

Patients and caregivers should weigh the expected benefits with the potential risks of a contralateral (double) prophylactic mastectomy.

A recent Brigham and Women’s (BWH) study reveals that from 2002 to 2012, the number of women choosing to have both of their breasts removed as a strategy to prevent the recurrence of breast cancer – a procedure known as contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM) – tripled in the U.S., but without a corresponding improvement in  survival. Researchers note that while CPM may have a survival benefit for patients that are at high risk of developing breast cancer, such as those with a genetic mutation, the majority of women undergoing CPM are at low risk for developing breast cancer in the unaffected breast.

“Our analysis highlights the sustained, sharp rise in popularity of CPM, while contributing to the mounting evidence that this more extensive surgery offers no significant survival benefit to women with a first diagnosis of breast cancer,” says senior author Dr. Mehra Golshan, Distinguished Chair in Surgical Oncology at BWH. “Patients and caregivers should weigh the expected benefits with the potential risks of CPM, including prolonged recovery time, increased risk of operative complications, cost, the possible need for repeat surgery, and effects on self image.”

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Understanding the Risks of Antidepressant Use during Pregnancy

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 20, 2015

New research suggests that antidepressant use in late pregnancy doesn’t significantly increase risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborns.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 13 percent of pregnant women and new mothers may experience depression. Antidepressant medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are an effective treatment for depression. However, their use during late pregnancy has raised concerns, due to questions about the health impact on newborns.

A 2006 study suggested that the use of antidepressants in late pregnancy (after 20 weeks) may increase the risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). PPHN is a condition that typically occurs in term or near-term infants and presents within hours of birth. It can lead to severe respiratory failure requiring intubation and mechanical ventilation.

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Beware of Blue-Light Before Sleep

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital January 22, 2015

Using certain light-emitting electronic devices in the hours before bedtime may negatively impact overall health.

Contributors: Anne-Marie Chang, PhD, is an associate neuroscientist within Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders. Charles Czeisler, MD, PHD, is Chief of BWH’s Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders.

Can the way you read before bedtime affect the quality of your sleep?

Recent research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) suggests that the use of light-emitting electronic devices – tablets, some e-readers, smart phones, and laptops – in the hours before bedtime can negatively impact overall health, alertness, and the circadian clock, which synchronizes the daily rhythm of sleep to external environmental cues.

“We found the body’s natural circadian rhythms were interrupted by the short-wavelength enriched light, otherwise known as blue light, from these electronic devices,” said Anne-Marie Chang, PhD, corresponding author and associate neuroscientist in BWH’s Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders. “Participants reading a light-emitting e-book took longer to fall asleep and had reduced evening sleepiness, reduced melatonin secretion, later timing of their circadian clock, and reduced next-morning alertness.”

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