Breast cancer diagnosis and treatment news

A new blood test can diagnose cancer in less than one hour.

New blood test gives early results
Study subjects: 32 people in different stages of breast cancer
Location of study: U.S.
Results: Researchers at Kansas State University there developed a straightforward blood test that within one hour can identify human cancers — including breast and lung — even before symptoms are present. The test is being tested for other cancers, too.
Significance: Early detection means improved chances of preventing cancer from spreading, or becoming fatal, and makes treatment less invasive.

Tumor profiling provides more effective treatment
Study subjects: 825 breast cancer patients
Location of study: U.S.
Results: Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine completed a major analysis of the genetics of breast cancer and found four major categories of the disease. Among their findings is the possibility that drugs already found to work against ovarian cancer could be effective against one type of breast cancer they identified.
Significance: The new school of thought concentrates on types of tumors rather than the area of the body where cancer develops. Pinpointing a type of cancer’s genetic makeup helps to provide a more effective treatment.

Male breast cancer study offers clues
Study subjects: 823 male breast cancer patients
Location of study: U.K.
Results: London’s Institute of Cancer Research conducted the world’s largest study of male breast cancer and isolated one particular gene as a risk factor in half the cases. Mutations in the RAD51B gene, which aids DNA repair, can increase a man’s breast cancer risk by as much as 50 percent. RAD51B mutations are thought to increase the risk of female breast cancer, too.
Significance: Male breast cancer is rare, but studying both male and female breast cancer increases knowledge of the disease as a whole. The findings could lead to new treatments for men battling the disease.

Ultrasound device approved

Study subjects: Clinical study
Location of study:
U.S.
Results: The FDA has approved an ultrasound device that can detect tumors in dense breast tissue. The higher amount of connective and glandular tissue in dense breasts makes tumors more difficult to detect by standard mammogram. The somo-v Automated Breast Ultrasound System scans more accurately and produces several images in about one minute.
Significance: Forty percent of women have dense breasts, leaving them at a higher risk for mammogram reading errors. The device is not useful for women who have had procedures like biopsies or breast surgery. 

Advice

Finding your way back to intimacy after cancer

Women tend to be critical of their bodies at the best of times. After breast cancer treatment, which is among the worst of times, regaining intimacy seems daunting. 

“Women undergo many changes after breast cancer treatment,” says Dr. Melanie Davis, co-president of the Sexuality and Aging Consortium at Widener University. “There’s a big change in body image, especially if surgery is involved. … So much breast tissue is removed, and if the nipple is removed many aspects of sexual pleasure have changed.”

Even without surgery, cancer treatment can cause issues such as vaginal dryness, which makes penetrative sex painful.

The best remedy is a playful attitude. Intimacy goes beyond penetration and can include oral sex, sex toys and team masturbation — all in a pressure-free environment.

“When sex is defined as a penis in a vagina until there’s a climax, it’s too goal-oriented. The goal is pleasure.”


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