Wednesday, September 24, 2014

To Joan Lunden: Most Women Beat TNBC

Joan Lunden is being treated for triple-negative breast cancer, according to People magazine.  It's the same type of cancer Robin Roberts has battled.  And, of course, me and many of those who read this blog.

She has started chemotherapy and has agreed to go public with her treatments, which I hope takes some fear out of the disease for others facing it.   I send her virtual hugs, but more important, I send hope. Even though this disease can be aggressive, it is not necessarily so, and the great majority of women with non-metastatic TNBC beat it.  

Go, Joan. 


Monday, September 22, 2014

Breastfeeding Reduces Risk of TNBC in African-American Women

[Information below is from Boston University and has been edited to eliminate misleading comments, such as that triple-negative breast cancer is automatically aggressive.]

African-American women who have had children and never breastfed appear to have an increased risk of developing estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer, including triple-negative breast cancer, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.  

This is consistent with previous research that showed that breastfeeding reduced TNBC risk in all women.

Researchers combined data on breast cancer cases and controls from four large studies, including the Boston University Black Women's Health Study. The combined analyses included 3,698 African American women with breast cancer, including 1,252 with the estrogen receptor-negative subtype.

They found that women who had four or more births and had never breastfed any of their babies had a 68 percent higher chance of developing this type of cancer compared with women who had only one birth and had breastfed that baby.

African-American women are more likely die of breast cancer than white women, and are more likely to be diagnosed with triple-negative.

Although previous studies have shown that overall risk of breast cancer may be elevated during the first 5 or 10 years after giving birth with a subsequent reduction in risk, this study suggests that the adverse impact on estrogen receptor negative breast cancer persists over time. The biologic mechanisms behind the association, however, are unclear. One hypothesis is that the immune system/inflammatory processes that occur after birth may play a role.

Whatever the cause, breastfeeding looks like one way to reduce risk—not to mention that it is just good for both mom and baby.

Please support this site with your donations—that's the only thing that keeps it going. If you like it, support it.  Plus, if you donate just $25 you'll receive a copy of my book, Surviving Triple-Negative Breast Cancer. Click the Donate button on the right to donate through PayPal.   You'll then get an email from me asking if you want the book, how you want it signed and where you want it sent.  And if you just want to donate without receiving the book, or donate more, that's wonderful.  It's all up to you. Thanks!  And hugs.   

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Fruit Fly Another Tool Against TNBC

Photo from the University of Wisconsin
Researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York are trying the ultimate approach in personalized therapy, targeting medullary thyroid cancer, colorectal cancer, and triple negative breast cancer. 
They inject the common fruit fly with a genetic copy of a patient’s tumor and test “thousands of drugs to see if any of them—either alone or in combinations—eradicates the tumor without killing the fly. The next step: to administer the successful drug cock­tail to the human patient.”  Read more.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

PARP inhibitor effective against ovarian cancer with BRCA mutation

NOTE:  I am posting this because basal-like TNBC is similar to ovarian cancer on the molecular level and some experts say that treatment for ovarian cancer might be effective for this form of TNBC.

 SEATTLE — An oral tablet form of a PARP inhibitor, olaparib, given in combination with chemotherapy, was safe in heavily pretreated ovarian cancer patients, and patients with BRCA mutations may have a better response compared with those without a BRCA mutation, according to phase Ib clinical trial data presented at the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research-AACR 10th Biennial Ovarian Cancer Research Symposium, held Sept. 8-9.

“This study is one of the first studies to use olaparib tablets instead of olaparib capsules,” said Saul Rivkin, MD, founder and chairman of the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research, and a research scientist at the Swedish Cancer Institute, both in Seattle, Washington. “The goal was to find the maximum tolerated dose of olaparib tablets plus weekly metronomic carboplatin and paclitaxel in patients with relapsed ovarian cancer.
“This treatment regimen provided a response rate of 66 percent in heavily pretreated ovarian cancer patients. It was surprisingly tolerable with no grade 4 toxicities,” said Rivkin.

Rivkin and colleagues enrolled 14 heavily pretreated ovarian cancer patients (from three to eight prior therapies), ages 42 to 77. Patients received paclitaxel and carboplatin weekly, three weeks out of four, with increasing doses of olaparib. The maximum tolerated dose of olaparib was found to be 150 mg twice daily for three consecutive days of each week of each cycle.

Of the 12 evaluable patients, four had a complete response (33 percent), four had a partial response (33 percent), two had stable disease (16 percent), and two had disease progression (16 percent).

Three patients with a complete response, three with a partial response, one with stable disease, and one with disease progression had BRCA mutations detected in their tumors.

The most common grade 3 toxicities included neutropenia, leukopenia, lymphopenia, and anemia. There was no evidence of gastrointestinal, renal, cardiac, hepatic, pulmonary, or dermatologic toxicities in any of the patients with a toxicity grade greater than 2.

The investigators plan to recruit up to 40 additional patients in the phase II extension of this protocol.

This study was funded by the Dulien Fund and AstraZeneca. Rivkin declares no conflicts of interest.

Please support this site with your donations—that's what keeps it going.  Plus, if you donate just $25 you'll receive a copy of my book, Surviving Triple-Negative Breast Cancer. Click the Donate button on the right to donate through PayPal.   You'll then get an email from me asking if you want the book, how you want it signed and where you want it sent.  And if you just want to donate without receiving the book, that's wonderful. Thanks!  And hugs.   

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Existing Drugs for HIV and Rheumatoid Arthritis Might Treat TNBC

Triple-negative breast cancer cells show a significant expression of the proteins CCL5 and IL6, according to research published in the September 2, 2014 online edition of Nature Communications.

Specifically, TNBC cells secrete IL6 (a cytokine protein interleukin-6)  that triggers cells located within lymph nodes and the lungs to secrete CCL5 (a chemokine protein) and VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor).  CCL5 then helps recruit cancer cells that express CCL5 receptor CCR5, and VEGF promotes vascular growth (angiogenesis) in lymph nodes and increases vessel permeability in the lungs. 

In plainer language, the interplay between these proteins and receptors leads to  metastatic growth, which is more likely in TNBC.

That also means we have another potential for the holy grail: drugs targeted specifically at TNBC.
What's more, FDA-approved drugs already exist to target these proteins and are now used in other illnesses such as HIV and rheumatoid arthritis. For example, IL6 receptor inhibitor tocilizumab is an FDA-approved anti-inflammatory drug and the HIV drug maraviroc inhibits CCR5.  So showing that these drugs can treat TNBC can jump-start the approval process for a targeted cancer drug.   

Currently, it takes 10-12 years and billions of dollars to develop a new drug from discovery to market; however, using repurposed or repositioned drugs promises significant savings in time and resources.

Donate just $25 to this site and receive a copy of my book, Surviving Triple-Negative Breast Cancer. Click the Donate button on the right to donate through PayPal.   You'll then get an email from me asking how you want your book signed and where you want it sent.  Thanks!  And hugs.  Your support is all that keeps this whole thing going.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Wearing a Bra Does Not Cause Cancer

Wearing a bra does not cause cancer.  This myth has been debunked before, but a new study reinforced that fact.

The research, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Preventiona journal of the American Association for Cancer Research found no association between bra wearing and increased breast cancer risk among postmenopausal women.

“There have been some concerns that one of the reasons why breast cancer may be more common in developed countries compared with developing countries is differences in bra-wearing patterns,” said Lu Chen, MPH, a researcher in the Public Health Sciences Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and a doctoral student in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Washington School of Public Health.  

“Our study found no evidence that wearing a bra increases a woman’s risk for breast cancer. The risk was similar no matter how many hours per day women wore a bra, whether they wore a bra with an underwire, or at what age they first began wearing a bra,” said Chen.

“There has been some suggestion in the lay media that bra wearing may be a risk factor for breast cancer. Some have hypothesized that drainage of waste products in and around the breast may be hampered by bra wearing. Given very limited biological evidence supporting such a link between bra wearing and breast cancer risk, our results were not surprising,” Chen added.

Study participants were 454 women with invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) and 590 women with invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC), the two most common subtypes of breast cancer, from the Seattle-Puget Sound metropolitan area; 469 women who did not have breast cancer served as controls. All women were postmenopausal, ages 55 to 74.

The researchers conducted in-person interviews and obtained information on demographics, family history, and reproductive history. They also asked a series of questions to assess lifetime patterns of bra wearing. Questions included age at which the study participant started wearing a bra, whether she wore a bra with an underwire, her bra cup size and band size, the number of hours per day and number of days per week she wore a bra, and if her bra-wearing patterns ever changed at different times in her life.

No aspect of wearing a bra was associated with an increased risk for either IDC or ILC.

But I still hate bras.

Donate just $25 to this site and receive a copy of my book, Surviving Triple-Negative Breast Cancer. Click the Donate button on the right to donate through PayPal.   You'll then get an email from me asking how you want your book signed and where you want it sent.  Thanks!  And hugs.  Your support is all that keeps this whole thing going.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A mountain-sized wink

As many of you know, we have a little cabin in Colorado, at the base of the East Spanish Peak.  Last winter, we took a flight from Des Moines to Albuquerque and I knew we would fly right over the mountain.  But it was stormy and all I could see from the plane were clouds, so I stopped searching out the window and turned to my book.  At one point, though, I realized we had to be almost over the mountain, so I once more looked out, and there it was, "our" mountain (background, on the left), rising over the clouds.  I felt it gave me a big wink.

Life is entirely made up of these small moments that give us hope, make us smile, calm us.   So easy to miss, so important to savor.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Today's treat: healthy watermelon juice

Watermelons may be, duh, mostly water, but they are also high in dietary fiber, thiamin and folate.  Fiber and folate are both especially good cancer-fighters.   And when you juice it with the rind, you add the antioxidant citrulline plus vitamin C and B-6 to strengthen your immune system.

You’ll need a juicer if you include the rind—make sure you wash it thoroughly.  Organic is best.   If you don't have a juicer, cut the rind off and use a blender, then try some other uses of the leftover rind.  Livestrong has several great suggestions.

One cup of watermelon juice has only 71 calories, but it has 15 grams of sugar, so don’t go over a cup a day.

Also, you can easily freeze this summer's watermelons for use later in the year.  Just cube, put in a freezer bag, squeeze out the excess air, and freeze.  You'll want to use them right out of the freezer, though, as they turn to mush pretty fast.

For more information on a cancer-fighting diet, check out my book, Surviving Triple-Negative Breast Cancer.  You can get a free signed copy just by donating $25 to this site.  Click the Donate button on the right to donate through PayPal.   You'll then get an email from me asking how you want your book signed and where you want it sent.  Thanks!  And hugs.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Get A Signed Copy of Surviving Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

Here’s a chance to support this blog and get a copy of my book with a personal note to you or to another recipient.   Just donate $25 to the blog and you’ll get the book free. All you have to do it hit the Donate button on the right and make your donation.  I’ll send a follow-up email from that, asking for the name and some specifics I can use in the note, plus the address to which to send it.  If you already have the book, this is a chance to get a copy for your local library or cancer center, or for a newly diagnosed friend.

There is plenty of information here for anybody facing breast cancer, and lots of tips for anybody who never wants to face it.  One entire chapter is on healthy living, including diet and exercise suggestions. 

If you want to donate to this blog without getting the book, hey I am cool with that.   

Or if you just want the book without donating, I am selling them also on eBay.

This is a short-term offer for the hardcover book, while supplies last.

The book will soon be available in paperback, so my publisher, Oxford University Press, is allowing me to sell a few hardcovers myself.

Thanks so much.  I truly cannot do this blog without you.