Monthly Archives: October 2011

Breast Cancer Myths: Separating Fact from Fiction

By Ted Gansler, MD, MBA, MPH

You have probably seen and heard a lot about breast cancer during the past few weeks, but as we approach the end of this year’s breast cancer awareness month this is a good time to ask how much of the information you encountered is actually true. See if you know which of the following statements are true and which are false… [more]

TRUE OR FALSE: Most breast cancer is hereditary. You don’t need to worry if you don’t have a family history of breast cancer.


FALSE.
Only about 5% to 10% of breast cancer cases are thought to be the result of gene defects (called mutations) inherited from a parent. The lifetime risk for breast cancer can be as high as 80% for members of some families who inherit certain mutations of BRCA genes. The risk is not nearly as high for most women with a family history of breast cancer. On average, having 1 first-degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter) with breast cancer approximately doubles a woman’s risk, and having 2 first-degree relatives triples her risk. About 20% to 30% of women with breast cancer have a family member with this disease (although most of these families do not have abnormal BRCA genes).… Continue reading →

Why the Recent Nobel Prizes Matter

By William Chambers, PhD

 

Earlier this month, 3 immunologists were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology. Two of the 3, Bruce Beutler and Ralph Steinman, are former research grantees of the American Cancer Society, bringing the total of Nobel Prize winners who are former grantees to 46. Drs. Beutler and Jules Hoffman, the third awardee, were singled out for their work on non-adaptive immunity, and Dr. Steinman was recognized for his discovery of dendritic cells, which are singularly important in adaptive immunity. So why is their work important, and what does it have to do with the fight against cancer? [more]

 

The immune system

 

The body’s defense, or immune system, is composed of both a non-adaptive response and an adaptive response. Both work to protect the body, but the non-adaptive immune system is less sophisticated or less highly evolved than the adaptive immune system.

 

Non-adaptive immunity is seen in living things that aren’t as complex as humans, such as sea urchins or worms. In these creatures, cells called phagocytes recognize, ingest, and destroy invading organisms. Those cells can also release chemical substances that help protect the animal. Phagocytes are also part of the non-adaptive immune system in humans.… Continue reading →

The Prostate Cancer Quandary

EDITOR’S NOTE: This blog was originally published on June 29. Due to recent questions on this topic, it’s been reposted. News reports say the United States Preventive Services Task Force will next week release new recommendations saying that healthy men should no longer receive a PSA blood test to screen for prostate cancer. Reports say the USPSTF will say the test does not save lives and often leads to more tests and treatments that needlessly cause pain, impotence and incontinence. Otis W. Brawley, M.D., chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, says the Society cannot comment on the evidence review or on the recommendations until they are made public.

By Otis W. Brawley, MD, FACP

 

 

Prostate cancer is a major public health problem.   The American Cancer Society estimates that 240,890 American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011 and 33.720 will die of it.  It is the second leading cause of cancer death among men, only surpassed by lung cancer. 

 

Prostate cancer screening became common in the U.S. in the early 1990s and dramatically changed the demographic of cancer in the U.S. Prostate cancer quickly became the most commonly diagnosed non-skin cancer.  Today an American male has a lifetime risk of prostate cancer diagnosis of about 1 in 6 and a lifetime risk of dying of only 1 in 36.… Continue reading →