Sunday, October 27, 2013


• Read more about TNBC in my book, Surviving Triple-Negative Breast Cancer.

• Please consider a donation to Positives About Negative to keep this site going.  This work is entirely supported by readers.  Just click on the Donate button in the right of the page.  Thank you!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

ENMD-2076 May Target TNBC mutations

The kinase inhibitor ENMD-2076 may effectively target the p53 family of tumor suppressors, which have been connected to triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), according to results of a phase II clinical studyData demonstrate that ENMD-2076 exhibited "robust anticancer activity" against both p53 and p73 mutations, said chief researcher  Jennifer R. Diamond. M.D., of the University of Colorado.  Research is being conducted by the drug company EntreMed in patients with TNBC and advanced/metastatic soft tissue sarcoma.   The next step, before the drug could be generally available,  would be a phase III clinical trial.

• Read more about TNBC in my book, Surviving Triple-Negative Breast Cancer.

• Please consider a donation to Positives About Negative to keep this site going.  This work is entirely supported by readers.  Just click on the Donate button in the right of the page.  Thank you!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Stop worrying about tomorrow.  Celebrate today.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Survey shows women more aware of celebrity decision than their own breast cancer treatment options

NEW YORK – October 17, 2013 —  A survey commissioned by The BC5 Project, a group focused on broadening awareness of breast cancer treatment options, suggests that famous personalities may be impacting important medical decisions. The findings also point out that some women are opting for treatments without full knowledge of all the therapies available to them.

According to a national survey of 100 women aged 50+ who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, more than half of the women surveyed believed that actor Angelina Jolie’s decision to have a double mastectomy will make other women more comfortable choosing to do the same. 

“This is a worrisome statistic for a number of reasons, most obviously its suggestion that many women are willing to make a life-changing decision they may not fully understand based on a situation that’s not their own,” said Dr. Cathryn Yashar,Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology, the University of California San Diego and part of The BC5 Project

“Also of concern is data from a recent Harvard/Dana Farber study which shows the growing number of women who are inclined to have their breasts surgically removed as an alternative to the equally effective breast conserving surgery,” Dr. Yashar added. “It begs the question of whether or not women are fully aware of all their options.”

Results from The BC5 Project survey suggest this, reporting that one-third of women surveyed were only presented with one treatment option from their doctor, and only 27 percent sought a second opinion on their diagnosis or treatment.  When asked specifically about Breast Brachytherapy, for example, a five-day radiation therapy also known as APBI, less than one in 10 women even knew the option existed.  A full three-quarters of women who would have been candidates for the treatment report that they would have been interested in the therapy.

“This is just one example of how the lack of knowledge about options is affecting women and their treatment choices,” said Yashar.  “As physicians, we should strive to take on a more active role becoming aware of all the options ourselves, so we can better educated women and close this knowledge gap.”

Restorative Yoga Can Help Trim Fat

PLAINSBORO, N.J. – Yoga’s health benefits may go beyond stress reduction – a study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that for overweight women, restorative yoga may offer a way to actually trim subcutaneous fat.

The benefits of restorative yoga – a form of the practice that emphasizes relaxation over flowing movements or challenging balance poses – compared favorably with simple stretching when tested among a group of women who were clinically obese.

The study’s lead author, Maria G. Araneta, PhD, MPH, of the University of California, San Diego, said researchers examined whether women could lose fat from less intense exercise than aerobic activity. Patients with a BMI of 30 or more, which the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines as obese, may have a hard time starting an exercise program, despite their obvious need for physical activity.

Araneta presented results at the 73rd Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association in Chicago, according the quarterly edition of Evidence-Based Diabetes Management, a supplement to The American Journal of Managed Care.

Smaller studies had shown other health benefits from yoga to persons at risk of diabetes, but Araneta said no study had specifically measured a loss of fat. A 48-week study comparing two groups, one taking restorative yoga and one performing stretching exercises found that the yoga practitioners lost significantly more subcutaneous fat over the initial six months, and kept losing it afterward. There was no significant loss of visceral fat in either group. Of note:
  • Weight: Both groups lost weight, with the restorative yoga group losing more, an average of 1.3 kg at six months compared with 0.7 kg for the stretch group. Significantly, the yoga group maintained the reduction.
  • Fat: The restorative yoga group lost more than 2.5 times the amount of subcutaneous fat as the stretch group, and kept losing fat between the six-month mark and the 48-week mark. After six months, the stretch group reversed its progress, regaining almost half its lost fat.
While stretching and body alignment are involved, restorative poses are often performed in a reclined or seated position, with limbs and parts of the torso supported by blankets, pillows, or padded bolsters that resemble a sofa cushion. Poses are held much longer than in other styles of yoga, often as long as 7 minutes. Measured breathing is emphasized, and many commercial classes feature meditative music.
One explanation for the difference may be that restorative yoga reduces levels of cortisol, which rises during times of stress and is known to increase abdominal fat. Araneta told Evidence-Based Diabetes Management that results on cortisol will be released later in 2013.

TNBC found later in younger women, leading to poorer prognosis

Adolescent and young adult women with triple-negative breast cancer are nearly three times as likely to die of the disease than those with other forms of breast cancer, according to research published in the journal Breast Cancer Research.  Overall, these women faced a 44 percent higher risk of death from breast cancer of all types than older women. One reason, researchers say:  Lack of screening before age of 40, which leads to tumors being diagnosed at a higher stage when they are less treatable.

But, the difference was largely confined to short-term survival.  Long-term survival rates for these women were similar to those for older women.  This is because TNBC usually recurs quickly, with cases spiking in the first three years and dropping significantly after that.

The women in the study were breast cancer patients who were 15 to 39 at diagnosis.  Roughly 20 percent of those were triple-negative. Those living in poor neighborhoods, with pubic insurance, and who were African-American fared worst.   

The takeaway:  Make sure the young women in your life get tested, pay attention to their bodies, and take symptoms very seriously.  Early treatment is essential.

• Read more about TNBC in my book, Surviving Triple-Negative Breast Cancer.

• Please consider a donation to Positives About Negative to keep this site going.  This work is entirely supported by readers.  Just click on the Donate button in the right of the page.  Thank you!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Does Lactation Not Protect Women of Mexican Descent? More Research Needed

Scientific data suggest that a woman reduces her risk of breast cancer by breastfeeding, having multiple children and giving birth at a younger age. A study led by the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and recently published online by Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, indicates that women of Mexican descent may not fit that profile. In fact, results suggest that women of Mexican descent with more children and those who breastfeed are more likely to be diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer.
The average age when women in the study gave birth to a first child was 23 years old. These women had an average of two to three children and were likely to breastfeed for long periods of time. Based on existing research, primarily based on non-Hispanic white women, this reproductive pattern would be classified as low risk. Yet all of the women in the study developed breast cancer, says Martínez.
The study enrolled breast cancer patients, 18 years old and older, at the University of Arizona Cancer Center, the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and three sites in Mexico Рthe Universidad de Sonora, the Instituto Tecnológico de Sonora and the Universidad de Guadalajara.
The study showed that patients of Mexican descent who breastfed for 12 months or more were more than twice as likely to have triple negative breast cancer. They were younger at diagnosis and younger during their first full-term pregnancy. Patients who had three or more children were also more likely to have triple negative breast cancer. Martinez said that it is important to note that prior studies, mainly in non-Hispanic white women, have shown that these reproductive characteristics reduce the risk of breast cancer overall, possibly due to effects on the more common, better prognosis, of luminal A cancers.
The most important takeaway from this report is that the scientific community needs to do further research into populations with unique risk-factor patterns that might benefit from different screening or prevention approaches. The observations made in this study need to be replicated in populations with similar reproductive profiles to determine if the results are due to common biologic factors or specific genetic or environmental factors.
[Taken from a news release from the University of California Health System.  Edited to eliminate unnecessary references to TNBC as automatically aggressive.]
• Read more about TNBC in my book, Surviving Triple-Negative Breast Cancer.

• Please consider a donation to Positives About Negative to keep this site going.  This work is entirely supported by readers.  Just click on the Donate button in the right of the page.  Thank you!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

New Imaging Technique Can Determine Cancer Subtype and Response to Treatment

PHILADELPHIA — An optical imaging technique that measures metabolic activity in cancer cells can accurately differentiate breast cancer subtypes, and it can detect responses to treatment as early as two days after therapy administration, according to a study published in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
“The process of targeted drug development requires assays that measure drug target engagement and predict the response (or lack thereof) to treatment,” said Alex Walsh, a graduate student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. “We have shown that optical metabolic imaging (OMI) enables fast, sensitive, and accurate measurement of drug action. Importantly, OMI measurements can be made repeatedly over time in a live animal, which significantly reduces the cost of these preclinical studies.”
Human cells undergo extensive chemical reactions called metabolic activity to produce energy, and this activity is altered in cancer cells. When cancer cells are treated with anticancer drugs, their metabolic activity changes. OMI takes advantage of the fact that two molecules involved in cellular metabolism, called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD), naturally emit fluorescence when exposed to certain forms of light. In this way, OMI generates distinct signatures for cancer cells with a different metabolism and their responses to drugs.
Walsh and colleagues used a custom-built, multiphoton microscope and coupled it with a titanium-sapphire laser that causes NADH and FAD to emit fluorescence. They used specific filters to isolate the fluorescence emitted by these two molecules, and measured the ratio of the two as “redox ratio.”
When they placed normal and cancerous breast cells under the microscope, OMI generated distinct signals for the two types of cells. OMI could also differentiate between estrogen receptor-positive, estrogen receptor-negative, HER2-positive, and HER2-negative breast cancer cells. 
Next, the researchers tested the effect of the anti-HER2 antibody trastuzumab on three breast cancer cell lines that respond differently to the antibody. They found that the redox ratios were significantly reduced in drug-sensitive cells after trastuzumab treatment but unaffected in the resistant cells.
They then grew human breast tumors in mice and treated some of these with trastuzumab. When they imaged tumors in live mice, OMI showed a difference in response between trastuzumab-sensitive and -resistant tumors as early as two days after the first dose of the antibody. In comparison, FDG-PET imaging, the standard clinical metabolic imaging technique, could not measure any difference in response between trastuzumab-sensitive and -resistant tumors at any time point in the experiment, which lasted 12 days.
 “Cancer drugs have profound effects on cellular energy production, and this can be harnessed by OMI to identify responding cells from nonresponding cells,” said Walsh. “We are hoping to develop a high-throughput screening method to predict the optimal drug treatment for a particular patient.”
Importantly, OMI can be used on tissues freshly excised from patients but, with further development, it could be incorporated in endoscopes for live imaging of human cancers, according to the investigators.
News release from the American Association of Cancer Research

• Read more about TNBC in my book, Surviving Triple-Negative Breast Cancer.

• Please consider a donation to Positives About Negative to keep this site going.  This work is entirely supported by readers.  Just click on the Donate button in the right of the page.  Thank you!

Monday, October 7, 2013

I am thankful for all the beauty in my life

Photo by Pat
White Oaks Lake, New Hampshire

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Sulfasalazine could be used to fight TNBC

Triple-negative breast cancer tumors are especially dependent on cystine, one of the 20 amino acids that are the building blocks of proteins that all cells need, and could be effectively treated with a drug already approved by the FDA, according to a study published online October 3, 2013 in the journal Cancer Cell.

Lead researcher Luika Timmerman, PhD, an investigator in the University of California San Francisco,  found that she could significantly slow growth of TNBC tumors using an anti-inflammatory drug called sulfasalazine to block a specific cystine transporter. While sulfasalazine itself would not be appropriate for treating cancer, Timmerman said, it could serve as a "lead compound" that could be used to develop drugs that specifically target TNBC cells.

"This study of human tumors in mice and of breast cancer cell lines demonstrates the potential of targeting not only this cystine transporter, but also other metabolic abnormalities in cancer," she said.

[Based on a news release from the University of California at San Francisco.]

• Read more about TNBC in my book, Surviving Triple-Negative Breast Cancer.

• Please consider a donation to Positives About Negative to keep this site going.  This work is entirely supported by readers.  Just click on the Donate button in the right of the page.  Thank you!