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Wanda Sykes Diagnosed With DCIS And Opts For A Double Mastectomy

When Wanda Skyes, 47, had a bilateral breast reduction in February, the pathology returned with DCIS present in the left breast specimen.  Recently the comedian appeared on  “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and during the interview revealed her breast cancer diagnosis and her decision to have a double mastectomy.

Sykes continued, “It wasn’t until after the reduction that in the lab work, the pathology, that they found that I had DCIS [ductal carcinoma in situ] in my left breast. I was very, very lucky because DCIS is basically stage-zero cancer. So I was very lucky.”

But, she added, “Cancer is still cancer. I had the choice of, ‘You can go back every three months and get it checked. Have a mammogram, MRI every three months just to see what it’s doing.’ But, I’m not good at keeping on top of stuff. I’m sure I’m overdue for an oil change and a teeth cleaning already.”

Because she has a history of breast cancer on her mother’s side of the family, Sykes explained she opted to have a bilateral mastectomy.

“I had both breasts removed, because now I have zero chance of having breast cancer,” she said. “It sounds scary up front, but what do you want? Do you want to wait and not be as fortunate when it comes back and it’s too late?”

The American Cancer Society Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*

Encourage Earlier Mammograms For Women With A Family History Of Breast Cancer

Somewhere along the line I learned to encourage women with a family history of breast cancer to begin getting mammograms at an age 10 years prior to when their mother was diagnosed and to encourage their daughters to begin getting mammograms at an age 10 years prior to when they themselves were ever diagnosed.

I learned this prior to the discovery of BRCA genes.  It was a trend that had been noted among women with strong family histories.  The new study (see full reference below) in the journal Cancer verifies that genetic breast cancers show up earlier in the next generation – on average by 8 years.

The study from MD Anderson looked at 2 generations of families with the BRCA gene to assess the age at diagnosis.  Using the pool of 132 BRCA-positive women with breast cancer who participated in the high-risk protocol at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (Gen 2), 106 women could be paired with a family member in the previous generation (Gen 1) who was diagnosed with a BRCA-related cancer (either breast cancer or ovarian cancer).

The median age of cancer diagnosis was Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*

Affordable Care Act Expands Women’s Preventive Health Services

There was no large fanfare but there should have been as a result of the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) recent recommendations that require new health insurance plans to provide preventive services at no cost to the patient. That’s right. No cost. Oh, how women needed this victory in the midst of these trying, turbulent times of economic scarcity. You will no longer have to go to a healthcare provider’s office and turn your pockets inside out or empty your pocketbook on the table before someone will give you a PAP smear or an annual exam. We all know the old adage: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Well, our healthcare policy makers actually believe this. This policy represents change; change that will make a difference in the quality of your life. And your daughter’s life. And your grandmother’s life. It will help your bank account when you no longer have to write that check for preventive services that could prolong and add to the quality of your life. What brought about this change? The Affordable Care Act. Yes, that same healthcare act that has been politically vilified and called everything except a child of God. That Act.

On August 1, 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services, under the leadership of Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, issued a press release outlining Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway*

Mammogram Frequency Should Be Dependent On More Than A Woman’s Age

I read the LA Times article by Shari Roan, Study urges more individual mammogram guidelines, with interest.  As Roan notes, guidelines to date have mainly focused on a woman’s age and not her other risks factors.

The American Cancer Society recommends that healthy women undergo screening mammograms every one to two years beginning at age 40 regardless of risk factors. In 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended a different schedule which urged the inclusion of an individual’s personal risks:  screening for women ages 40 to 49 should be based on individual risk factors and women ages 50 to 74 should be screened every two years.

Monday, a paper was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (full reference below) which argues for a more personalized approach to screening mammograms.

The study by Dr. Steven R. Cummings, senior author and senior researcher at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, and colleagues was based on a computer model comparing the lifetime costs and health benefits for women who got mammograms every year, every two years, every three to four years or never. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*

Helpful Breast Cancer Q&A

Preya Ananthakrishnan, MD

Attendees of the breast cancer awareness symposium “Bridging the Gap: Promoting Breast Cancer Prevention, Screening and Wellness” were given the chance to submit questions on breast cancer in the minority community. This is the first part of these questions answered by Dr. Preya Ananthakrishnan, Assistant Professor of Clinical Surgery and a host of the event.

Q: I am a 51 year old Black women, whose mother died 13 years ago from breast cancer & her sister was diagnosed last year. I had a mammography 2 weeks ago and got the dreaded come back letter. Should I get genetic counseling?

Dr. Ananthakrishnan: I would suggest that your sister with the breast cancer get tested first, and if her test result is positive then you should get tested. Furthermore, it is likely that even though you got a “call back” letter after your mammogram, it is very possible that you don’t actually have a breast cancer. I would advise you to go in as soon as possible to work up whatever abnormality was seen. If you do in fact have a breast cancer, then you should certainly undergo genetic testing yourself.

Q: What is considered “early detection” of breast cancer?

Dr. Ananthakrishnan: Early detection is finding a breast cancer before symptoms actually occur. This could be by finding it on a mammogram before actually feeling a lump in the breast, or by finding a small lump before it becomes a big lump. Early detection can sometimes allow for less aggressive treatments and improved outcomes.

Q: Is radical mastectomy surgery still performed? I hear little about it now. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Columbia University Department of Surgery Blog*

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