How Could a Blood Test Be Used Soon in Breast Cancer Care?

Can we detect breast cancer with a blood test or liquid biopsy?We’ve heard a lot in the news over the last year about how researchers are working to develop a blood test to detect cancer, sometimes referred to as a “liquid biopsy”.

What should we make of all this? A blood test, whether for early detection or to aid in treatment and monitoring, would be a wonderful development. But how close are we really?

As I headed to San Antonio for the annual Breast Cancer Symposium in December, I wondered what we might hear there about progress toward a liquid biopsy for breast cancer. I’ve shared some highlights from the Symposium in a recent post. In this post, I’ll share my impressions from the Symposium on where things stand with work toward a liquid biopsy for breast cancer. Continue reading

Breast Cancer: How Much Progress Have We Made?

How much progress have we really made against breast cancer?It’s October, and Breast Cancer Awareness Month in now well underway. As always during October, we’re surrounded by pink products, business promotions displaying the pink ribbon and pink-themed advertising–all in the name of breast cancer “awareness”. But how much real awareness does all this bring? Does it actually help patients at all?

Why not take a step back from all the craziness for a moment and take a look at where we actually are in the fight against breast cancer. Breast Cancer Awareness Month has been around for 30 years. It seems fair to ask: with all this awareness, how much progress have we actually made against breast cancer? And if it’s not enough: how can we, or will we, do better? Continue reading

5 Cancer Research Stories Worth Following – Summer 2015

Cancer research news for Summer 2015 reflected a growing emphasis on matching patients with treatments based on the molecular characteristics of their cancer.What’s exciting in cancer research right now? In this post, I’ll review several of the most interesting cancer research stories that have been in the news this Summer.

These are a few of the recent stories that seem to have the greatest potential impact, at least from my perspective, and that I know I’ll want to follow as they develop further.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) held its annual meeting in June. A major theme reflected in numerous reports about the meeting was the need for more intensive efforts to match patients with treatments based on the molecular characteristics of their cancer, and incorporating this approach into clinical trials. Continue reading

10 Things We Learned About Progress Against Cancer in 2014

Progress against cancer is subject of  "2014 Year in Review" on tabletLooking back over 2014, what are the highlights of the year when it comes to major stories about breast cancer and developments in cancer research?

Here are my picks for the top ten stories that taught me something new, or that seemed to me to offer fresh insights or helpful reinforcement on issues that have been around for a while.

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Metastatic Breast Cancer: A Look at the Critical Need for Focused Research

The is an urgent need for research to address the particular needs of patients with advanced breast cancer.Several years ago, a close cousin of mine died from metastatic breast cancer. It was a tragedy that I couldn’t make sense of at the time–and still can’t.

In this post, we’ll take a look at a few of the facts about metastatic breast cancer and some of the critical research questions that need to be answered so we can better meet the very specific treatment needs of patients with advanced breast cancer. Continue reading

Breast Cancer: Where Are We After Twenty Years?

How far have we come in the fight against breast cancer?It was in the early 1990’s that I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

It also happened to be around that time that breast cancer advocacy and awareness efforts were starting to gain momentum.

We hear a lot these days about advances in the understanding of cancer biology, and about new experimental therapies.

But I sometimes find myself wondering just how much has been accomplished since the early ’90s. This post takes a look back at how far we’ve actually come in the fight against breast cancer in the past twenty years.

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Top Cancer Research Stories: Early Summer 2014

Daylily in early summer gardenThis is the latest post in a bi-monthly series where we take a look at several of the most interesting cancer research stories that have come out over the previous two months. These are a few of the recent stories that seem to have the greatest potential impact, at least from my perspective, and that I know I’ll want to follow as they develop further.

In early May, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) held its annual meeting in Chicago. In the area of breast cancer treatment, this meeting included reports on several interesting studies about ways that patients can benefit from new uses of existing drugs.

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Breast Cancer Quality of Life Issues: A Researcher Asks “Are We Doing Better?”

In one of the most interesting presentations at the recent San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, physicians and other attendees heard from a researcher who has spent thirty years studying issues related to the measurement of quality of life for cancer patients and how it can be improved. Dr. Lesley Fallowfield, Director of Psychosocial Oncology at Brighton & Sussex Medical School, spoke about what has and has not changed in the treatment of psychosocial and survivorship issues in breast cancer.

Woman sitting on mountain top and contemplating the sunset

Possibly the biggest change in this area over the last thirty years is that there is now much more support available to patients, largely through a wide variety of formal and informal support groups and online and other sources of information. Dr. Fallowfield noted, however, that these resources “fill a void in the absence of anything more formal”.

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