Studies highlight treatment realities and promising new drugs


number of Americans who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, according to the American Cancer Society. Men account for 2,240 cases. An estimated 40,000 will die from the disease.


of black women on Medicare who were told they had breast cancer were still alive five years later, research shows. That compared with 68.8 percent of white women who were the same age, lived in the same area and were diagnosed in the same year, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

10 years

of taking the drug tamoxifen is better than five years in terms of breast cancer recurrence after treatment, according to a British study presented at this summer's annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Breast cancer recurred in 16.7 percent of the 10-year group, compared with 19.3 percent in the five-year group. In a separate study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, taking tamoxifen was tied to a sharply reduced risk of a second case of breast cancer among women who carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 breast cancer genes.


of privately insured women had their breast cancer treatment delayed more than six weeks, compared with 18 percent of those who had no insurance or were covered by Medicaid, according to a study in JAMA Surgery. And for women treated with surgery, in particular, outcomes were substantially worse after a long delay: 80 percent of those women lived at least five years after surgery, compared with 90 percent of patients who waited less than two weeks for treatment.


The name of an experimental cancer drug from BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. that early data show has proved to be effective in treating patients with breast or ovarian cancers caused by mutation in the BRCA gene that repairs damaged DNA. The data, presented at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, showed that 11 out of 25 evaluated ovarian cancer patients had tumor shrinkage of at least 30 percent. A health benefit was observed in 82 percent of those patients, the company said. In the 18 BRCA breast cancer patients, seven had tumor shrinkage, and 12 patients had a clinical benefit. All signs of the cancer disappeared in one patient. BioMarin plans to soon begin a pivotal trial in patients with metastatic breast cancer.


Researchers have concluded that a woman's risk for all cancers increased 13 percent with every 4 inches of height, according to a paper published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. The study is the latest of several to report an association between women's height and cancer, researchers said. While it is unlikely that height in and of itself promotes cancer, the factors that influence growth — such as nutrition, genetics and environment — are likely responsible.


The name of Roche Holding AG's drug approved to treat metastatic breast cancer. A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recently recommended the drug also be approved to help shrink tumors before surgery. The drug is designed for tumors containing excess levels of the HER-2 protein. The FDA typically follows the panel's recommendations.

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