Breast Cancer Awareness Month: A Story of Love, Faith and Victory

Three years ago at age 55, Ricki Fairley was having a routine physical when her doctor found “a little tiny tumor under my nipple.” After further tests, she got the news: She had breast cancer. “I was shocked because I thought my breasts were, like, too small for breast cancer,” she muses three years after a mastectomy on Oct. 20, during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A busy marketing executive, her initial thought was, “Gosh this is going to get …

Mammogram Study: Are We Missing the Point?

It’s a large, new study that raises doubts about the value of mammograms in preventing breast cancer deaths, but a lot of the publicity and debate about it seems to have missed an important point. According to the 25-year Canadian study, published Tuesday in BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal), there was no difference in the number of breast cancer deaths between women who got annual mammograms and women who got an annual physical breast exam by a nurse. The …

Blood Test May Help Find Ovarian Cancer Early

Hopes for a screening test that could detect ovarian cancer early – something that has eluded the fight against this lethal disease – were boosted this week with results from an important new study. Published online in the journal Cancer, the research involved monitoring women’s yearly blood test results for a sudden change in a biomarker called CA-125, a protein that indicates tumor growth. More than 4,000 postmenopausal women took part in the 11-year study at the University of Texas MD …

Can a Baldness Drug Prevent Prostate Cancer?

It’s a drug used to treat an enlarged prostate, as well as male-pattern baldness, and 10 years ago a study indicated it could reduce a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer by 30 percent. But there was also some indication that the drug, generic name finasteride, might cause more aggressive prostate tumors, so the Food and Drug Administration added a black box warning about the potential risks and wouldn’t approve its use to prevent cancer. Doctors also backed away from …

Prostate Gene Test Could Save Men From Surgery

For men who undergo a biopsy for a prostate tumor, the big question has been whether to wait and see if the cancer grows slowly, or to treat it immediately with a regimen that could cause incontinence or impotence. What made the decision difficult is that there’s been no good way to tell which kind of cancer a man might have – slow-growing or aggressive – but a new gene-analysis test introduced this week may make the decision clearer. The …

Mammogram Debate: Is Screening Overdone?

“Screening saves lives” has long been the mantra of breast cancer groups and doctors. But a longtime critic of Americans’ zeal for screening says new research shows that up to a third of cancers detected through routine mammograms may not be life-threatening. The study, which looked at three decades of government data on early-stage breast cancer in women over 40, found that 70,000 women a year may have been overdiagnosed for breast cancer and needlessly treated. “It’s a lot of …