No Boobs About It, Inc., www.noboobsaboutit.org is a not for profit organization sharing information , resources and support on getting through treatment and on with life.

A Thanksgiving Wish

My wish, if you are in treatment, or just newly diagnosed is that you can give yourself a time out from all things breast cancer this Thanksgiving weekend.

 

If you are newly finished treatment, I wish you the peace and relief of having treatment behind you an a new beginning ahead of you.

 

If you have many years as a survivor, I wish you the joy of knowing what’s important and what isn’t important.

 

I wish us all the gift of seeing a cure for the many types of breast cancer so all those we love will be safe from this disease.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

wish

Share This
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks

Invisible Tattoos

tattoos

The press release that follows, published by Jack Towner, on Nov 2nd, speaks to research coming from the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI), the United Kingdom. The research validates what most of us, who have received tattoos prior to radiation for breast cancer, have long felt.

While tattooing  is a necessary part of the radiation process, permanent black ink tattoos are an unattractive reminder of the breast cancer experience. Practically speaking, the tattoos interfere with wearing certain garments, especially bathing suits.

PRESS RELEASE – ‘INVISIBLE TATTOOS’ COULD IMPROVE BODY CONFIDENCE AFTER BREAST CANCER RADIOTHERAPY

INVISIBLE TATTOOS could replace the permanent dark ink tattoos used to ensure that breast cancer patients having radiotherapy are treated in exactly the same spot during each session, according to results from a pilot study  presented at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer Conference on 11/2/2014.

Research suggests that the permanent pin prick marks made on the skin of women having radiotherapy reminds them of their diagnosis for years to come, reducing body confidence and self-esteem. It’s also more difficult to spot these tattoos in dark-skinned women, potentially leading to inconsistencies in the area being treated.

The NIHR-funded researchers, based at The Royal Marsden hospital in London, asked 42 breast cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy to rate how they felt about their body, before the treatment and one month later.Half the women were offered fluorescent tattoos, only visible under UV light, while the other half had conventional dark ink tattoos.

The researchers found that 56 per cent of the women who had fluorescent tattoos felt better about their bodies one month after treatment, compared to only 14 per cent among those who received black ink tattoos. Using fluorescent tattoos also made no difference to the accuracy of treatment and took only slightly longer to carry out, compared to conventional dark ink tattoos.

Steven Landeg, a senior radiographer from the Royal Marsden, who presented the data, said, “These findings suggest that offering fluorescent radiotherapy tattoos as an alternative to dark ink ones could help ameliorate the negative feelings some women feel towards their bodies after treatment. It’s important to remember that body image is subjective and dark ink radiotherapy tattoos will affect patients differently, but we hope that these results will go some way towards making this a viable option for radiotherapy patients in the future.”

Evelyn Weatherall, 62, Surrey, had six cycles of chemotherapy, followed by radiotherapy, after being diagnosed with breast cancer following routine mammography through the UK’s breast screening programme. She said, “I’d asked if I could be part of any kind of clinical trial during my treatment because I’d read about how successful they were proving to be. My doctors told me about the invisible tattoos they were pioneering at The Royal Marsden hospital and I was more than happy to take part. I had lost my hair during chemotherapy and felt that I didn’t want another visible reminder of my cancer.

“I think I was one of the first to undergo this procedure and it really worked. There wasn’t a mark on my skin after the radiotherapy planning. I was going to a wedding soon afterwards and knew I’d be able to wear an outfit that didn’t make me feel self-conscious. It’s wonderful to think that I may have been a part of something that could become standard in the future.”

Professor Matt Seymour, NCRI’s clinical research director said, “With more than half of all cancer patients now surviving 10 years and beyond, it’s imperative that we do everything we can to reduce the long term impact of treatment on patients, including cosmetic changes.” The study was funded by the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR)

.Sources
* Landeg S. et al, Breast Radiotherapy: Invisible Tattoos for External References
Conference abstract: http://conference.ncri.org.uk/abstracts/2014/abstracts/B291.html

Share This
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks

What Do You Know About Generic Drugs?

genericGiven all the drugs we take during treatment, to manage the side effects of treatment, and post treatment hormonal therapy, it would be a blessing to be able to use generic versions of high cost, name brand drugs instead.

In some cases, the drugs we need don’t come in generic form; if they do, we may be afraid to use them fearing that they may not be as good as their brand name counterparts. When the pharmacist offers you a generic, you can’t help but think “If it’s a copy, it must not be as good.”

You would be wrong!

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) offers assurances in the following article.

What are generic drugs, and how does the Food and Drug Administration ensure that they are as safe and effective as brand-name drugs?

A brand-name drug is often patented to protect it from competition and thus to help the drug manufacturer recover the development costs. Several years later, when the patent expires, other drug companies can copy the brand-name drug and seek FDA’s approval for its generic version.

Today, more than 8 in 10 prescriptions filled in the United States are for generic drugs. The use of generic drugs is expected to grow over the next few years as a number of popular drugs come off patent.

Because generic drug makers are not required to repeat the clinical trials of new drugs and generally do not pay for advertising, marketing and promotion, generics are usually substantially less expensive than brand-name drugs. According to the Congressional Budget Office, generic drugs save consumers an estimated $8 billion to $10 billion a year at retail pharmacies. Billions more are saved when hospitals use generics.

To obtain FDA approval, generic drug makers must prove that their product performs in the same way and is as safe and effective as the brand-name drug. Therefore, health care professionals and consumers can be assured that FDA-approved generic drugs have met the same strict standards as their brand-name counterparts.

The generic drug approval process includes a review of scientific data on manufacturing, ingredients and performance. A generic drug approved by FDA that would be substituted by a pharmacist for a brand name drug will:

  • Contain the same active ingredients as the brand-name drug. Active ingredients make the drug effective against the disease or condition it is treating. Inactive ingredients may vary.
  • Be identical in strength, dosage form and route of administration. If the brand-name drug is a capsule and is taken orally, so is the generic.
  • Treat the same medical condition.
  • Be absorbed into the bloodstream at a similar rate and over the same period of time.
  • Meet the same requirements for identity, strength, purity and quality.
  • Be manufactured under the same strict standards that FDA demands of brand-name drugs.

Testing Generic Drugs

The FDA approval process assures that medicines sold in the United States are safe and effective. But FDA also confirms safety and effectiveness by testing selected drugs—both brand and generic—in its laboratories or through research contracts and grants. This includes the raw ingredients used to make the product, as well as the finished drug.

“If questions are raised about whether a generic drug performs the same as a brand-name product, we perform experiments in FDA laboratories, evaluate data and take a comprehensive scientific look at any possible differences between the products,” says Mansoor Khan, R.Ph., Ph.D., director of FDA’s Division of Product Quality Research.

In rare cases, new evidence emerges indicating that a generic drug may not have the safety or effectiveness as was previously believed. That’s what happened in 2012 with one of the generic forms of Wellbutrin XL 300 mg, a drug to treat depression. FDA sponsored a study comparing Budeprion XL 300 mg, the generic drug, with Wellbutrin XL 300 mg, and concluded that Budeprion XL 300 mg may not be as effective.

FDA encourages consumers and health care professionals to notify FDA of any adverse side effects when using drugs and devices the agency regulates, by reporting them online to MedWatch, FDA’s safety information and adverse event reporting program, or by telephone at 1-800-FDA-1088. Visit FDA’s Drug Quality Sampling and Testing Programs website to learn more.

How Do I Know if a Generic Is Available?

Not every drug has an approved generic. To find out if there is a generic equivalent for your brand-name drug, use Drugs@FDA. You can search for generic equivalents using FDA’s Electronic Orange Book. You can also consult the most recent monthly approvals for First Generics.

This article appears on FDA’s Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.

 

Share This
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks

Obesity=Increased Risk of Certain Breast Tumors in African American and Hispanic Women

 breast

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) published the following press release days ago, reporting on two large, new studies providing compelling evidence that obesity increases the risk of the most common type of postmenopausal breast cancer among both African Americans and Hispanics.

These studies show that associations between body weight and breast cancer risk seen among white women hold true for African American and Hispanic women as well. This is significant because most breast cancer research has been conducted among white women, yet African American and Hispanic women have a higher incidence of the more aggressive types of breast cancer that are more challenging to treat, such as estrogen receptor (ER) negative tumors. They are also more likely to die of the breast cancer than white women.

The first study, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, is the largest of its kind among Hispanic women. Conducted by Esther M. John, PhD, MSPH, Senior Research Scientist at the Cancer Prevention Institute of California, and her colleagues, the study suggests that healthy-weight Hispanic women who gain pounds through adulthood have increased risk for ER and progesterone receptor (PR) positive tumors after menopause.

The study included 1,262 pre-menopausal (497 cases, 765 controls) and 2,023 postmenopausal (759 cases, 1,254 controls) Hispanic women pooled from two U.S. population-based case-control studies: the San Francisco Bay Area Breast Cancer Study and the 4-Corners Breast Cancer Study.

“We saw that when Hispanic women became overweight or obese, it increased risk of ER and PR positive breast cancer in postmenopausal women. We’ve known this for a long time for white women, but now we are seeing this also in Hispanic women,” John said.

The few previous studies investigating obesity’s link to breast cancer among US Hispanics have been small with inconsistent findings, says John. This large study fills in a lot of missing information about obesity and breast cancer in postmenopausal Hispanic women.

“Breast cancer appears to have different risk factors in younger versus older women but by far, breast cancer is more common among postmenopausal women,” said John. “This has huge implications for not just Hispanics but all women. We cannot change genetics or family history, but we can do something about obesity. You can eat less, choose healthier foods and do more physical activity. It may not that easy but it’s possible. And it’s important for not just lowering breast cancer risk but for many other diseases.”

The other study, by epidemiologist Elisa V. Bandera, MD, PhD, at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and her colleagues analyzed the associations of obesity with different hormone-receptor types among over 15,000 African American women, finding that excess weight is linked with a 31 percent increased of ER positive tumors in postmenopausal Black women.The study used case reports from the AMBER (African American Breast Cancer Epidemiology and Risk) Consortium, which combines data from four studies with a large number of African-American participants: the Black Women’s Health Study (BWHS), Multiethnic Cohort Study (MEC), Carolina Breast Cancer Study (CBCS) and Women’s Circle of Health Study (WCHS).

Examining a total of 2,165 ER positive cases and 1,093 of the more aggressive ER negative cases (including 491 triple negative breast cancers) matched against 12,437 women without cancer, the study also showed that risk is higher for postmenopausal women who were lean as young adults and gained weight in adulthood, with almost double the risk of ER positive tumors.

“We know that breast cancer has several subtypes and there is growing evidence that these subtypes have different risk factors. The distribution of these subtypes and risk factors are different for African Americans and Hispanics compared to white women,” Bandera said.

“Our findings show that, similar to white women, African American postmenopausal women can reduce their risk of ER positive breast cancer by maintaining a healthy weight,” said Bandera. “Yet one study is not enough, we need to know more about what African American women can do to prevent and survive breast cancers of all types, which are often aggressive and deadly.”

Studies:

  • Esther M. John et al. Overall and abdominal adiposity and premenopausal breast cancer risk among Hispanic women: The Breast Cancer Health Disparities Study. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. Published OnlineFirst October 28, 2014.
  • Esther M. John et al. Body size throughout adult life influences postmenopausal breast cancer risk among Hispanic women: The Breast Cancer Health Disparities Study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; Published OnlineFirst October 28, 2014.

*************************************

 

Share This
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks

Depression is often a Byproduct of Breast Cancer

Why do some women weather a diagnosis of breast depressioncancer and treatment with a minimum amount of emotional stress and bypass the depression most often experienced by many new survivors?

Depression certainly seems to be an understandable response to facing a life-threatening illness, changes in body image, debilitating treatment, expensive treatments not totally covered by insurance, and changes in one’s personal and professional life.

A few years ago, Ann Bettencourt, a professor of psychological sciences at the University of Missouri,  studied women who are most likely to experience distress following a diagnosis of breast and when depressive symptoms tend to occur throughout the course of their treatment.

Bettencourt found evidence that certain factors, including marital status, having children in the home, income level and age, affect the likelihood of depression in breast cancer survivors.

“Many women receive strong support following their initial diagnoses of and treatment for cancer, but then the social support can wane,” Bettencourt said. “Our findings suggest that both single women and mothers with children in the home may need additional support across the entire year following breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.”

The research also links depression levels with income and age. Women with different incomes tend to have similar levels of elevated depression during treatment, but those symptoms decrease among women with higher incomes in the year following treatment. Younger breast cancer survivors experience more depression during treatment than older patients, but report levels similar to those of older women after treatment is complete.

Bettencourt says identifying risk factors for depression among breast cancer patients is an important part of a woman’s prognosis. In a separate study, she links depression with both intentions to adhere to treatment plans and lack of adherence to medication regimens. The research shows that more depressed survivors have less favorable attitudes toward and perceptions of treatment regimens and thus are less likely to adhere to them.

“Depression can interfere with patients’ willingness to adhere to medication regimens,” Bettencourt said. “Deviating from the prescribed course of treatment may complicate patient outcomes and threaten prognosis.”

Source: University of Missouri-Columbia

Share This
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks