News and Events

Trio of Sisters Have Breasts and Wombs Removed to Avoid Hereditary Cancer

Three brave sisters have revealed how they had their breasts AND wombs removed to avoid a hereditary cancer which killed their mother when she was just 32. Luan Moreton, 38, Kim Jones, 33, and Jemma Dennis, 30, had mastectomies after tests revealed they had the same aggressive gene as their mother Rita. Now the two eldest sisters have also undergone hysterectomies after doctors told them they had a 50-60 per cent chance of developing ovarian cancer.

(Left to right) Luan Moreton, Kim Jones and Jemma Jones from Nuneaton: All have had their breasts removed
(Left to right) Luan Moreton, Kim Jones and Jemma Dennis from Nuneaton: All have had double mastectomies

Youngest sibling Jemma will also have the operation after she has tried for children with her husband. Yesterday the trio urged other women to be screened for the disease and consider preventative surgery.

Luan, who has one son, said: ‘We were all very close growing up after what happened to mum, but these operations have made us even closer.I feel that we are lucky because we realised we all had the gene and took steps to prevent it from developing. People need to know that there are things you can do to minimise the risk. Our mum had the gene but she was never tested for it. It was too late for her – but we were able to do something about it.’

Luan was 12, Kim seven and Jemma just four when their mother died from breast cancer at the age of 32 in 1986.

Family tragedy: Mother Rita with her daughter Luan in 1982 - Rita died from breast cancer four years later in 1986
Family tragedy: Mother Rita with her daughter Luan in 1982 – Rita died from breast cancer four years later in 1986

Years later the nightmare returned when Luan, from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, then 31, discovered a lump in her breast while taking a shower. Tests showed she had breast cancer and in July 2005 she had a lumpectomy followed by a six-month course of chemotherapy and four weeks of radiotherapy.


BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genes that belong to a class known as tumour suppressors. In normal cells, BRCA1 and BRCA2 help ensure the stability of the cell’s DNA and help prevent uncontrolled cell growth. However, women who inherit a mutated form of these genes are at far greater risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer at a young age. Harmful BRCA1 mutations may also increase a woman’s risk of developing cervical, uterine, pancreatic, and colon cancer. Harmful BRCA2 mutations may also increase the risk of pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, gallbladder and bile duct cancer, and melanoma. Men who carry the BRCA1 gene have a greater risk of breast cancer and possibly pancreatic and prostate cancer. However, this is more likely among men with the BRCA2 gene.

Source: National Cancer Institute, U.S

The treatment was successful, but further examinations at Birmingham Women’s Hospital revealed that Luan was carrying the BRCA1 gene – the main trigger for the disease. It meant there was a 50 per cent chance that her sisters would have it too. In January 2007 Jemma, from Tamworth, Staffordshire, gave blood to be tested – and the results came back positive. It meant she had an 85 per cent chance of getting breast cancer. Middle sister Kim, from Leicester, was also tested a couple of months later and she too tested positive.

Read more: DailyMail

Breast Cancer Vaccine Called Promising

A vaccination made using a patient’s own cells triggers tumor eradication in nearly 20 percent of those with one type of breast cancer, U.S. researchers said.

Study leader Dr. Brian Czerniecki — surgical director of the Rena Rowan Breast Center at the University of Pennsylvania and surgical director of the immunotherapy program for the Abramson Cancer Center — said more than 85 percent of patients with ductal carcinoma in situ appear to have a sustained immune response after vaccination.

Czerniecki and colleagues at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania enrolled 27 women with HER2-positive ductal carcinoma in situ and isolated specialized white cells from the patients’ blood using, standard techniques similar to the blood donation.

The researchers then activated the dendritic cells, which are key regulators of the immune system, and primed them with small pieces of the HER2/neu protein. Each patient received four shots, one week apart, of their personalized anti-HER2 vaccine — and patients had surgery two weeks later to remove any remaining disease, which is standard care for ductal carcinoma in situ patients.

The study, published in the Journal of Immunotherapy, compared pre-vaccination biopsy samples with post-vaccination surgical samples and found five patients had no disease visible, indicating their immune system had wiped out the tumor. Of the remaining 22 patients, HER2 expression was eliminated in 11 patients and reduced by 20 percent or more in another two, the study said.

“We are continuing to see this pattern in our second, ongoing trial,” Czerniecki added.

Read more: UPI

Seventh Annual EagleBank Foundation Fight Breast Cancer Golf Classic Raised over $350,000

The seventh annual EagleBank Foundation Fight Breast Cancer Golf Classic, held on October 10, 2011, at the Trump National Golf Club, raised over $350,000. Proceeds from this event were used to continue our support of research and outreach programs through our partnership with the following local hospitals and organizations: Shady Grove Adventist Hospital and Suburban Hospital in Montgomery County, MD, and Providence Hospital and Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC. Other beneficiaries were the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, The Children’s Inn at The National Institutes of Health, the Primary Care Coalition of Montgomery County and the Wellness Community.

Since the first golf tournament in 2005, the Foundation has raised over $1,200,000 for the benefit of local area hospitals and organizations in their fight against breast cancer. These funds have enabled local hospitals and other cancer-focused organizations in our community to continue ongoing research and provide support services–all dedicated to putting an end to breast cancer.

“We are extremely proud of our ongoing efforts to raise funds to help those hospitals and organizations in our community who are on the front line doing all they can to win the battle against breast cancer,” commented Donald R. Rogers (of Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker, P.A.), a director of EagleBank and the Chairman of the EagleBank Foundation. “Because of the continued generosity and support of our sponsors, players, contributors and volunteers, we are delighted to provide this much-needed funding for breast cancer programs and services at these well-deserving local hospitals and organizations. Once again, it is incredible that we “over-sold” this event during these still tough economic times. This is a testament to the passion and hard work of our Committee members and everyone else involved in organizing this event. It is truly an honor working with so many wonderful, dedicated people with the same commitment and focus,” he concluded.

Read more at Market Watch

Breast Cancer Tissue Bank Opens in the UK

The first national breast cancer tissue bank in the UK has opened its vaults of precious breast cancer tissue to all researchers in the UK and Ireland, providing a massive boost to breast cancer research. The bank is a unique collaboration of four leading research institutions and the NHS.

Donor’s breast tissue samples, blood samples, as well as data about the donor’s breast cancer are all stored in this revolutionary new bank. Researchers can apply for tissue samples via an online portal with an advanced bioinformatics facility, whatever their funding stream or location in the UK or Ireland. The bank is funded by research charity Breast Cancer Campaign.

The bank enables researchers to collect crucial data about the cancer and its characteristics, treatments, and patient’s family history. In addition, over time, researchers will be able to gather data on the effectiveness of treatments as well as disease progression or recurrence.

Historically, a major challenge in translating science into new treatments has been easy access to materials and suitable tissue samples for breast cancer research.

The Breast Cancer Campaign Tissue Bank was established after a review conducted by Breast Cancer Campaign revealed that the main obstacle in breast cancer research progress was shortage of good quality tissue. Researchers could spend several months finding suitable tissue samples for their research, increasing the time needed to convert these findings into patient benefit. The review involved over 50 leading breast cancer researchers in the world.

Read more at Medical News Today 

CDC: Too Few Americans are Getting Screened for Common Cancers

By: Steven Reinberg

The number of Americans being screened for colon, breast and cervical cancers still fall below national targets, federal health officials said Thursday.

  • The number of Americans being screened for colon, breast and cervical cancers still fall below national targets, federal health officials said.

In 2010, 72.4 percent of women were being screened for breast cancer, below the target of 81 percent, for cervical cancer it was 83 percent of women, while the target is 93 percent, and for colon cancer 58.6 percent of Americans were screened, missing the target of 70.5 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Not all Americans are getting the recommended screening for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer,” said report co-author Mary C. White, branch chief of the CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. “There continue to be disparities for certain populations.”

The screening rates are particularly low among Asians and Hispanics, according to the report in the Jan. 27 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Among Asians, the screening rate for breast cancer was 64.1 percent, for cervical cancer it was 75.4 percent, and for colon cancer it was 46.9 percent.

Hispanics were less likely than non-Hispanics to have screening for cervical and colon cancer (78.7 percent and 46.5 percent, respectively), the researchers found.

Screening is important, said Dr. Stephanie Bernik, chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Read more at USATODAY

Hair Test for Breast Cancer on the Horizon

By: Kate Hagan

A HAIR test to screen for breast cancer is being developed by an Australian company which says it has the potential to become a viable alternative to mammography.

SBC Research is conducting an 80-patient trial to test its hypothesis that women with breast cancer have higher levels of phospholipids in their bloodstream that can be detected in hair.

The company aims to commercialise the test and says it could be made available to women of all ages as an initial screening, unlike mammography which is largely restricted to women over 50.

Those involved in the consortium began developing a test based on their discovery that hair from women with breast cancer had a different cell structure to hair from women without the disease.

They used synchrotron X-ray technology to detect 70 per cent of women who had breast cancer in a series of trials, by observing a ring in their hair not present in disease-free hair.

But researchers are now taking a different approach that they believe will deliver a more accurate test.

They made the lipid discovery when a researcher, Dharmica Mistry, who did not have breast cancer, noticed that her hair developed a ring.

”I was looking at X-ray diffraction patterns of hair and I used to use my hair as a regular control,” she said.

”The only thing I did differently was using olive oil in my hair every now and then. I stopped using it and the feature disappeared.

Read more at SydneyMorningHerald

New Advice on Breast Cancer Prevention

By: Celeste Perron

Despite all of the attention we pay to trying to cure it, very little solid evidence exists on how to prevent breast cancer. Don’t smoke, don’t get fat, and exercise plenty—that’s about all the advice the experts have for us, and it’s frustratingly vague, because those are the same rules we’re supposed to follow for preventing every other health issue out there.

So it’s nice to hear from the American Institute for Cancer Research about new evidence thateating plenty of fiber can reduce breast cancer risk by a significant amount. Research that the AICR helped fund analyzed 16 studies of almost one million women and found a 5% reduction in risk for each 10 grams of fiber per day the women consumed. Although we all know that fiber is good for you, and helps prevent colorectal cancer, previous research into breast cancer preventnion had been inconclusive.

Two really interesting things about this research:  One, fiber intake reduced breast cancer risk regardless of women’s weight, so it’s not just that thin women were eating more fiber and getting less breast cancer because of they were thin—fiber has some cancer-preventing powerindependent of its ability to help keep you slim.  Second, soluble fiber prevented breast cancer, but insoluble fiber did not seem to.  Soluble fiber is the kind that’s good for your heart (and is found in oatmeal and most fruits and vegetables), while insoluble is the one that keeps your digestion moving (and is sometimes known as “roughage”).

Read More at LifeGoesStrong

Avastin and Sutent Increase Breast Cancer Stem Cells

Cancer treatments designed to block the growth of blood vessels were found to increase the number of cancer stem cells in breast tumors in mice, suggesting a possible explanation for why these drugs don’t lead to longer survival, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Max S. Wicha

The drugs Avastin and Sutent have been looked at as potential breast cancer treatments. But while they do shrink tumors and slow the time till the cancer progresses, the effect does not last, and the cancer eventually regrows and spreads.

“This study provides an explanation for the clinical trial results demonstrating that in women with breast cancer antiangiogenic agents such as Avastin delay the time to tumor recurrence but do not affect patient survival. If our results apply to the clinic, it suggests that in order to be effective, these agents will need to be combined with cancer stem cell inhibitors, an approach now being explored in the laboratory,” says study author Max S. Wicha, M.D., director of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The researchers treated mice with breast cancer using Avastin (bevacizumab) and Sutent (sunitinib), both of which work by stopping the growth and formation of blood vessels, a process called angiogenesis. The researchers found that tumors treated with these drugs developed more cancer stem cells, the small number of cells within a tumor that fuel a cancer’s growth and spread and that are often resistant to standard treatment. Both the number of cancer stem cells and the percentage of cancer stem cells that make up the tumor increased after being treated with each of these therapies.

The researchers found that the cancer stem cells increased because of a cellular response to low oxygen, a condition called hypoxia. And they were able to determine the specific pathways involved in hypoxia that activate the cancer stem cells.

Results of the study appear online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently revoked approval of Avastin for treating breast cancer, although the drug is approved for use in other types of cancer. The reversal was in response to clinical trials showing that the drug’s benefit was short-lived, with breast cancer patients quickly relapsing and the cancer becoming more invasive and spreading further throughout the body. Overall, the drug did not help patients live any longer.

The current study suggests the possibility of combining anti-angiogenesis drugs with a cancer stem cell inhibitor to enhance the benefit of this treatment. The researchers are testing this approach in mice and preliminary data looks promising.

Read more at Michigan Health

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