Breast Cancer

Cancer doctors want the best, most effective treatment for their patients. But it turns out many aren't paying attention to evidence that older women with early stage breast cancer may be enduring the pain, fatigue and cost of radiation treatment although it doesn't increase life expectancy.

A picture of a stethoscope.
jasleen_kaur / Flickr/Creative Commons

Duke Medicine research shows that most elderly, low risk breast cancer patients receive radiation therapy after surgery. That's despite evidence that the costly and physically-taxing treatment isn't very effective with that group.

Radiation Oncologist Rachel Blitzblau authored the new study.

She says some doctors might be skeptical of the data, but patients might also push to get the treatment anyway.

Comedian Tig Notaro is one of the hottest comedians in America right now and she is in town on her Boyish Girl Interrupted Tour.
tignation.com

Since comedian Tig Notaro went public with her breast cancer diagnosis in 2012, her life has been a whirlwind.

Medical student studying the structure of a pelvis.
University of Nottingham Medical School

A new study from Duke University suggests a chemical found in many plastics can make breast cancer cells resistant to treatment.

The report discusses the effects of BPA on Inflammatory Breast Cancer cells. It's a type of cancer found in 1-5 percent of breast cancer cases. Researchers suggest that the chemical neutralizes the effects of prescription drugs meant to keep the cancerous cell from growing.

Co-author Scott Sauer says it was important to look at the drug resistance factor, not just how the BPA interacted with the cancer itself.

Jennifer Ho, English professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
englishcomplit.unc.edu / UNC-Chapel Hill

When Jennifer Ho went to the hospital for testing on a lump in her breast, she encountered the image often associated with breast cancer: the pink ribbon.

A nurse led the UNC English professor to an exam room. She recalls, "And then I saw a tote bag with UNC hospital's name on it and the pink ribbon. And I had this immediate visceral reaction. And I'm walking with the nurse. And I said something I can't repeat on the air." Ho said, "I hate those *** pink ribbons."

The pink ribbon is a symbol for breast cancer awareness.
TipsTimes

UNC- Chapel Hill and Duke researchers will share national grant money to further breast cancer studies. Ten programs at the schools will get $3.6 million from the Susan G. Komen Foundation. The research will investigate causes and develop vaccines.

Pam Kohl, the director of Komen's Triangle to the Coast affiliate, says this funding can be as important to scientists as it is to patients. Kohl points to Komen Scholar Kimberly Blackwell of Duke as one of those who benefited.

Kimberly Blackwell
medicaloncology.medicine.duke.edu / Duke Medical Oncology

Time Magazine comes out with a list of the 100 most influential people each year. Names like Justin Timberlake and Barack Obama made the grade in 2013. But also on the list was Duke oncologist Dr. Kimberly Blackwell.  She was celebrated for her achievements improving chemotherapy treatments for a certain kind of breast cancer.