Tags: breast cancer
Among many of the cancer diagnoses, breast cancer is probably the one that is most dreaded for a woman.
Sex After Breast Cancer
One of the most frequently diagnosed types of malignant cancer is breast cancer. In fact, in 2006 alone, nearly two hundred and thirteen thousand women were diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States. The risk of a woman being diagnosed with the disease within their lifetime is one in eight, or twelve percent.
Cardiovascular Disease More Lethal than Breast Cancer
In comparison, cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease and stroke, breast cancer is responsible for fewer deaths. Nevertheless, among many of the cancer diagnoses, breast cancer is probably the one that is most dreaded for a woman. This is most likely due to the fact that this type of cancer impacts so many women who are within the age range of thirty to forty years old. Also, the stigma of this disease is unfortunately connected to a woman's body and the sense of beauty, femininity, and sexuality.
Loss of Sexual Desire After Breast Cancer
It is common for women who have suffered from a breast cancer diagnosis to suffer loss of libido from the treatment of the disease, including chemotherapy, which may result in nausea and fatigue. Additional side effects include vaginal dryness, which has the added disadvantage of causing uncomfortable intercourse. This is due to the drugs that are often prescribed during treatment, such as tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors.
Communication With Partner
Many breast cancer survivors state that communication with a partner or husband is helpful. Over-the-counter items such as lubricants are beneficial and help combat the dryness. Recommendations for lack of sexual desire include a scheduled date night or romantic dinner on days when the women feels good and has enough energy, such as a week before a chemotherapy treatment plan. Many husbands are sad to see their wife experience fatigue but the fact that energy levels may increase after the treatment is over often helps encourage hope in the relationship. Some patients often benefit from a prescription testosterone gel to replace their libido, although this treatment can have its own risks, therefore, it is recommended that the physician in charge of the patient's treatment be consulted.
Communication With Physician
Regrettably, oncologists sometimes have a difficult time communicating about sexual health with their patients, especially because this area is not usually their main area of expertise. In this case, online research is often beneficial to the patient.
Anti-Depressants and Diminished Sexual Desire
According to two recently published studies, antidepressants may also be responsible for diminished libido. Patients are recommended to consult with their physician about trying Effexor, which is an antidepressant that has been found to have little sexual side effects than the majority of anti-depressants, and also have the benefit of reducing hot flashes in menopausal women.
Scientists suggest that foreplay not be neglected. Stimulation of the vagina is important and this can be achieved with foreplay. Sometimes, couples rush the act, and this can become painful for the patient. Also, foreplay can be exciting and reduce stress.
Consult a Professional
If you are suffering with these issues, it is recommended that you seek advise from a doctor or counselor. Sexual health is crucial to the overall mental health and well being of women, but many are afraid to communicate about it and address the issue of sex after breast cancer.
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Scientists Study Causes, Impact of Breast Cancer Recurrence
Although a number of significant strides have been made in the detection and treatment of breast cancer in recent years, the disease remains a serious threat to women's health. Among female populations worldwide, breast cancer rates second only to lung cancer in terms of prevalence, morbidity, and mortality.
With early intervention and effective care, many cases of breast cancer are treatable and survivable. However, the odds for breast cancer survival decrease considerably when the disease recurs after an initial round of treatment. Often, physicians regard a recurrence of breast cancer as a failure of the primary treatment. In some cases, this can mean that the cancer turned out to be stronger or more widespread than originally believed.
Because of the much higher risk of complications and death associated with breast cancer recurrence, scientists around the world have focused a great deal of research attention on this problem. This week, we?ll take a look at the results of recent breast cancer research that focused specifically on breast cancer recurrence.
New Cancer Classification Method May Help Treat Recurrent Breast Cancers
In the process of treating recurrences of breast cancer and other types of cancer, it is important that doctors be able to determine whether a tumor is a newly-developed growth, or a lasting growth that survived the initial round of treatment. This is because different treatment methods are necessary based on the ?age? and durability of the tumor. However, traditional classification methods often made these variables difficult to determine.
Marc Bollet, M.D., a researcher at the Institut Curie in Paris, France, recently discovered a new method that might solve this longstanding problem. According to an article published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Bollet?s team devised a method that uses an analysis of DNA breakpoints to test the age of tumors. In the experiment, the DNA breakpoint method was shown to be much more accurate than existing techniques. The researchers asserted that these findings could usher in more effective diagnosis and treatment of recurrent cancers.
Additional Radiation May Prevent Breast Cancer Recurrence in Young Women
Women under the age of 30 who have been diagnosed with breast cancer often face a difficult battle, because they are often fighting a particularly aggressive strain of the disease that is most common amongst this age group. As a result, incidences of cancer recurrence among young women with breast cancer often do not have a good long-term prognosis.
However, according to the results of a recent study that was presented at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology's 49th Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, delivering an added dose of radiation therapy may significant boost young women?s chances of surviving recurrent breast cancer.
In the large European study, young female patients with recurrent breast cancer who received an additional dose of radiation following a lumpectomy were twice as likely to remain cancer-free for ten years as the women who did not receive the extra radiation. While additional research is needed, the authors suggested that this procedure could mark an important step forward for the treatment protocols for recurrent cancers of the breast.
Innovative Combination Treatment May Help Prevent Recurrences of Breast Cancer
Current methods of breast cancer treatment focus primarily on halting cancer growth. However, a new treatment investigated by researchers at the Danish Cancer Society in Copenhagen may also help reduce the risk of future instances of cancer recurrence.
The study, which was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, describes the unique dual action of a combination cancer treatment that pairs two types of treatments ? chemotherapy and the prescription drug tamoxifen. Women treated with both of these methods enjoyed improved survival rates of five to ten years longer than standard, individual forms of the treatment.
While more research will be necessary to determine the best combination of these treatments, the early results are promising, the researchers say.
If you?re concerned about breast cancer and breast cancer recurrence, please talk to your doctor to develop a personalized risk assessment or treatment plan that will work best with your health history. Please check back each week for more of the breaking health science news you need!
Breakthroughs in Breast Cancer Research Lend New Insight, Treatment Hopes
There can be no doubt that the public?s awareness of breast cancer has increased considerably in recent years. Once thought not to be a suitable topic for polite conversation, it is now arguably the most talked-about disease facing women. Products from bathrobes to car magnets bear the ubiquitous pink ribbon, and due to an onslaught of aggressive public awareness campaigns, many women can recite the early warning signs of breast cancer from memory.
Still, despite the public?s heightened awareness of breast cancer, this disease remains one of the top health risks facing women today. According to government health data, a new case of breast cancer is diagnosed every three minutes, totaling more than 200,000 new cases each year. And the mortality rate of the disease remains staggering: in the United States alone, 40,000 deaths annually can be attributed to breast cancer.
Although research on breast cancer once lagged behind other diseases, it is now one of the most studied health problems. This week, we?ll review some of the most significant recent findings related to breast cancers causes, diagnosis, and treatment - topics such as breast cancer research, western diet, genes and treatment hopes.
African-American Women Often Have More Aggressive, Deadly Form of Breast Cancer
As a population, African-American women are diagnosed with breast cancer at a lower rate than their counterparts of other races. However, they have a higher risk of dying from breast cancer than any other ethnic or racial group.
Researchers at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia recently designed a large-scale study geared to further analyze the unusual epidemiological patterns of breast cancer among African-American women. They used government health statistics, as well as cancer data from several other research centers, as the basis for their investigation.
According to the team?s findings, African-American women were much more likely to be diagnosed with larger tumors and more aggressive strains of breast cancer than were their counterparts in other racial and ethnic categories. To a degree, the differences appeared to be based on genetics, as many of the African-American women in the study had forms of breast cancer that have been linked to inherited traits.
However, the research team did not rule out the possibility that environmental factors may also play a role in this divergent epidemiological pattern. Specifically, they noted that African-American women, for a variety of reasons, often tended to seek health care later, meaning that their cancers were often more advanced. The researchers again emphasized the importance of early detection of breast cancers for women in every racial, ethnic, and demographic category.
Early Reports About Breast Cancer Genes May Have Misestimated Mortality Link
The scientific investigation of the role that genes play in breast cancer is a relatively new area of study. It is only in the last decade that the experimental tools have existed to allow researchers to begin to explore this link.
In recent years, some of the preliminary conclusions that were drawn about the role of genetics in breast cancer have been re-evaluated. One study, in particular, has asserted that some early conclusions about breast cancer genes may have been incorrect.
The findings of an analysis undertaken by researchers at the U.S. National Cancer Institute, along with Canadian and Israeli teams of collaborators, indicate that the gene once believed to influence the survival rate for breast cancer may not actually fulfill that role. According to the study, women both with and without the BRCA1 and BRCA2 cancer genes had virtually the same survival rate ten years after a breast cancer diagnosis.
However, the researchers did find that women with the genes did typically develop breast cancer earlier in life than did their non-gene-carrying counterparts. They cautioned that more studies would be needed to further refine the current understanding of the genetic risk factors for breast cancer.
Global Spread of ?Western? Diet Brings Increased Breast Cancer Risk
For years, scientists have lauded the comparatively healthy lifestyles of Asian and Mediterranean cultures as an example to follow for Westerners seeking decreased disease risk and increased well-being. Today, however, the process of globalization has exported many of the poor eating habits of Americans around the world -- and women in many countries are suffering from increased breast cancer rates as a result.
Breast cancer kills 500,000 people globally every year, and scientists have recently begun to note sharp increases in diagnosed cases in countries that have long boasted relatively low cancer rates. A study of over 1500 postmenopausal Chinese women found that among those who had adopted a more ?Western? diet that included sweets, starches, and red meat, cancer rates were much higher than those who still adhered to a traditional Chinese diet.
In addition to increasing breast cancer risk, the adoption of a ?Western? diet was also strongly correlated with increased obesity and other health problems. The research team urged the development of public health campaigns geared to warn those in developing nations of the possible dangers of completely abandoning traditional eating patterns in favor of an often less-healthy Western diet.
Check back each week for more of the latest health science news.
Breakthroughs in Cancer Research Offer New Hope to Women
Although research has significantly increased our understanding of the risks, causes, symptoms, and effective treatments for cancer, this most deadly of diseases remains a serious health risk. Women, in particular, are diagnosed with various forms of cancer at a rate that often outpaces men. In addition, they often tend to fare worse after receiving a diagnosis of cancer than do their male counterparts.
As part of a concerted effort to reverse this troubling trend, researchers around the world continue to seek answers that will assist in the development of better prevention, diagnosis procedures, and treatment methods for female victims of cancer. This week, we?ll review a trio of significant research findings that may lend hope to women struggling with the disease, as well as those who hope to prevent it.
Researchers Compile a List of Common Ovarian Cancer Symptoms
Although awareness of ovarian cancer has grown considerably in recent years, this disease remains a silent killer, causing more than 15,000 deaths annually in the United States alone. It is estimated that one in 56 women will develop ovarian cancer during her lifetime, and over 26,000 new cases of the disease are diagnosed annually.
If ovarian cancer is caught early, the prognosis for survival is very good. However, in its early stages, the disease often goes undetected, meaning that many cases aren?t diagnosed until the cancer has spread to other organs, making the risk of death much greater.
In early June, the American Cancer Society partnered with several other medical associations and public health advocacy groups to release a list of some of the earliest detectable symptoms associated with ovarian cancer. The symptoms include:
- Feeling bloated or full
- Pain in the pelvic region
- Difficulty eating
- Increased frequency of urination
The organization cautions women who have experienced one or more of the symptoms to seek immediate medical care. In addition, annual pelvic exams are another vital part of an effective ovarian cancer prevention plan.
Traditional Herb Found to Decrease Risk of Breast Cancer
The herb known as black cohosh has been used for centuries to help women cope with reproductive problems ranging from menstrual irregularity to menopause. In recent years, black cohosh supplements in pill form have been marketed as a treatment for many of the troubling symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia sought to determine whether black cohosh supplements impacted menopausal women?s risk of developing breast cancer. The researchers found that those women who had taken the supplement were half as likely to develop breast cancer as their counterparts who had not taken the supplements.
Although the findings may have significant implications for breast cancer prevention in menopausal women, the researchers caution that more studies will be necessary before a clear-cut recommendation can be made to include black cohosh supplements in a breast cancer prevention regimen.
Vitamin D Intake May Be Tied to Cancer Risk in Women
Researchers at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska recently released the results of a large study that sought to identify the relationship between nutrient intake levels and cancer risk in women. Specifically, the study focused on determining whether an elevated level of Vitamin D intake would impact the overall health profile of the participants.
The study analyzed the cancer risk of a group of 1,179 healthy older women. The subjects were divided into three groups, and each group was given a different type of supplement or a placebo. The researchers found that the group that took calcium and Vitamin D had a much reduced rate of developing several cancers in comparison to their counterparts in the other groups. Indeed, the women who took both supplements were 77 percent less likely to develop breast cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, and blood cancer.
Notably, the amount of Vitamin D given to the women who participated in the study was greater than the recommended daily intake currently prescribed for women. After further research, this target intake level may be adjusted to achieve optimal cancer prevention effectiveness.
The march toward increased prevention of cancer in women is an ongoing battle for researchers. However, as these studies indicate, new developments are unfolding at a rapid pace. Check back each week for the science news that can help you make the best choices to achieve optimal health.
Making Headway against a Deadly Disease: Recent Breakthroughs in Breast Cancer Research
Despite decades of concentrated research efforts and public awareness campaigns, breast cancer remains a serious health challenge. It is estimated that as many as one in eight women will face a breast cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. Although significant strides have been made in developing more effective methods of breast cancer treatment and diagnosis, the mortality rate of the disease remains distressingly high; only lung cancer kills more women each year.
Still, each new research finding moves the entire field of breast cancer research forward incrementally. New studies build on the findings and hypothesis established in older studies, and gradually, it is hoped that this process will be able to identify a cure for the disease. Although this ultimate goal is unlikely to be achieved in the near future, a number of significant study results have been reported in recent months.
Moderate Alcohol Consumption Linked to Increased Breast Cancer Risk
Although the consumption of some types of alcohol, such as red wine, has been linked to a number of positive health benefits, the results of one recent study seemed to confirm a long-suspected link between moderate consumption of alcohol and a heightened risk of breast cancer. The study, which used rodents as its subjects, concluded that an alcohol intake equivalent of two to four drinks daily could increase breast cancer risk by up to 60%.
The mechanism by which alcohol consumption increases breast cancer risk was identified as angiogenesis. Simply put, the moderate, ongoing consumption of alcoholic beverages can actually encourage vein growth in the body. If early-stage cancer cells happen to be present, alcohol-related angiogenesis can significantly increase the growth rate and size of tumors. As a result, researchers and health advocates are beginning to urge women to limit their daily consumption of alcohol to 1-2 drinks, with even less consumption preferable.
Link between Abortion and Breast Cancer Disputed by New Findings
One of the most controversial claims in recent years has been the contention that electing to terminate a pregnancy significantly increases a woman?s chance of later developing breast cancer. This claim has been the centerpiece of a number of anti-abortion media campaigns in recent years, such as those mounted by the group known as the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer. Several states have passed legislation forcing abortion clinics to inform patients that the procedure could increase the risk of breast cancer.
However, the recently released results of a Harvard University study seem to undermine the purported link between abortion and breast cancer. The study, which used longitudinal data from over 100,000 female nurses, found no statistically significant link between elective abortion and risk of breast cancer. Non-induced, spontaneous miscarriages were also found to have no bearing on breast cancer risk. However, because of the contentious debate surrounding these issues, it is likely that this controversy will continue to rage despite these findings.
Drug Found to Prevent Breast Cancer in High-Risk Women
Another recent study found that the drug Tamoxifen seemed actually to prevent the occurrence of breast cancer in women who were determined to be at high risk of developing the disease as a result of both hereditary and environmental factors. In a study of 5,408 women, the group who was administered Tamoxifen instead of a placebo experienced a lesser rate of breast cancer diagnoses.
All of the women who participated were healthy at the beginning of the study, although they had all received hysterectomies prior to their participation. Although women in the normal-risk group were diagnosed with breast cancer at a similar rate whether they had been administered Tamoxifen or a placebo, those in the high-risk group showed definite signs of benefiting from the drug. However, women in this group also reported a number of troubling symptoms and side effects thought to be related to the drug.
Although additional research will be needed in order to determine the precise way that this finding will impact preventive treatment for women at higher risk for developing breast cancer, researchers are confident that this drug -- or others like it -- could be a helpful tool in reducing cancer rates in the future.
Watch this space for future updates on breast cancer research, as well as reporting and analysis of many other scientific findings and breakthroughs that could impact your health.
Note: This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical care.
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