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New method of measuring breast density could improve screening processes
Date: 2013-12-04 10:13:29

According to a study revealed at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, lab tests show that changes in the density of women's breasts as they age have strong ties to the risk of breast cancer. Utilizing a new method of measurement and a focus group comprised of breast cancer patients and healthy women, the report was able to determine that women without cancer experienced a steady decline in breast density as they aged compared to those with cancer.

"Women under age 50 are most at risk from density-associated breast cancer, and breast cancer in younger women is frequently of a more aggressive type, with larger tumors and a higher risk of reoccurrence," stated Nicholas Perry, M.B.B.S., senior author of the study and director at the London Breast Institute in England.

The American Cancer Society recommended that women should get an MRI in addition to a full mammogram if they are at risk of breast cancer, as mammograms sometimes do not detect cancer given the density of a patient's breast. Even then, MRIs are only suggested for those at high risk of developing cancer.

Perry and his collaborators worked with nearly 600 participants, split evenly between women with cases of breast cancer and healthy patients. The women went through full mammograms, while the breast density was measured using a new system designed by the team at LBI.

"In general, we refer to breast density as being determined by mammographic appearance, and that has, by and large, in the past been done by visual estimation by the radiologist - in other words, subjective and qualitative," Perry explained.

Using a new system of density measurement, the researchers employed an algorithm that made breast density more assessable than it has been in the past. The updated formula could prove to be extremely beneficial in later screenings for breast cancer.

The future of testing for cancer... Full Story

Dietary changes could reduce risk of breast cancer
Date: 2013-12-03 13:37:49

Following research conducted in lab tests at the Duke Cancer Institute in Durham, NC, new studies have found a link between high cholesterol and breast cancer in post-menopausal women. The presence of a molecule that imitates estrogen activity could be traced to tumor development in breast cancer tissue.

"What we have now found is a molecule - not cholesterol itself, but an abundant metabolite of cholesterol - called 27HC that mimics the hormone estrogen and can independently drive the growth of breast cancer," stated Donald McDonnell, M.D., senior author of the report and chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke.

The lab test, conducted using mice that exhibit similar reactions to humans, concluded that 27HC had immediate association with tumor growth and expansion to other organs in the body. However, the researchers discovered that the introduction of antiestrogen medications such as statins substantially diminished the effects of 27HC. Almost three-quarters of breast cancers are fueled by estrogen, and with the discovery of 27HC, McDonnell and his team have identified a mechanism that attributes high levels of cholesterol to the risks of breast cancer.

Additionally, the researchers deduced that the elevated levels of 27HC also combat the effects of antiestrogen remedies like tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors.

"Human breast tumors, because they express this enzyme to make 27HC, are making an estrogen-like molecule that can promote the growth of the tumor. In essence, the tumors have developed a mechanism to use a different source of fuel," said McDonnell.

These results suggest that the simple method of cholesterol testing, and staying on a healthy diet could help prevent the risk of breast cancer.

Reducing breast cancer risk... Full Story

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