Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Breast Cancer News

Right now, the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium is happening with new information coming in every day. Pat Prijatel of Positives about Negatives( is there reporting updates about TNBC. So far, nothing earth-shattering on that front. They are still looking for that magic marker that could be targeted. So far androgen is the front runner followed by p53 gene based deletions.

However for advanced estrogen positive BC, my former company is reporting a new agent that extends the period of progression free survival almost 4 fold by targeting some cyclin dependent kinase involved in tumor reproduction. From its research number, I know when the drug was first made (10 years ago!!!!) because I had submitted a clinical candidate for a completely different therapeutic indication within a month of it. I also know it was made by a lab about 50 feet away from mine. This is big news since the usual 'good news' involves agents that extend this same survival by 50% meaning instead of the cancer returning after 4 months, it returns after 6 months. They call this 'significant' which it may be statistically but.....
The fly in the ointment is that it needs to be taken with an aromatase inhibitor and that the population studied was relatively small  (190 patients?). But if the results hold up in a larger study, which I hope is ongoing, this will help many Stage 4 BC patients and in a purely selfish  aside, help fund my retirement as I am still somewhat dependent on the success of this company though we recently reduced our 'risk'. And I have more friends with Stage 4 ER+ BC than ER-, I would like to give them hope.

Also reported: optical mammography. This involves a hand held device which can visualize a potential tumor using infrared rays. This will not replace x-ray screening but it will narrow down which lesions need to be biopsied. As it is now, 80% of lesions biopsied turn out not to be cancer. These ladies are scared to death needlessly. I knew that 80% figure when I was told my mass needed biopsying and tried to get reassurances from the unpleasant radiologist that I am probably among the 80%, right? No...not with your history. What she didn't add was she knew from the way my mass looked that the chances it was benign was about zero. The other radiologists I met up later with told me that.

Later on the national news, there was a teaser  about a breakthrough in breast cancer treatment that will save thousands of lives. Well I had to see what that was.  It turns out that if one takes anti-estrogen therapy for ten years instead of five years, recurrence rates are cut in half. I had wondered why anti-estrogen therapy was only used for 5 years when the cancer had almost the same chance of recurring at 9 years versus 4 years. But as numerous people have told me, these drugs are no picnic. I am sure this is not good news to those who experience so much pain on them.

Back in the Land of ex-Tumors, it is sunny and cold. It was 58 and rainy yesterday morning when I tried to get a short run in before my many duties of the day started. Who thinks retirement is sitting staring into space? We had Ms. Maya while her mom tried her hand at advising men in upscale clothing. She has to learn as she goes. Her positives: cute, personable (when she wants to be, I of course have seen her not-so-personable side) and engaging. Downsides: confusing computer codes that change daily and really no advanced knowledge of men's clothes. Many men wanted feedback on how they looked and what would be their best color. This she can do. She learned how to  measure. She was surprised that so many men apologized for being overweight. She thought only women had such body issues. In the end, she made 50% of her sales goals (not decided by her) and they seemed happy with her.

While we had Ms. Maya, she grabbed the remote and a crayon. The remote she pretended was a phone which she  held up to her ear. The crayon, she pretended was a cigarette which she held daintily in between her fingers bringing it up to her mouth taking several 'puffs'. Who was she mimicking!!!!! Must be a woman the way she held the cigarette. Naomi was quite upset when we told her this. She hadn't seen this behavior before so Maya must have learned it recently. An angry call was made to Dontae..probably one of his sisters. But we don't want Maya exposed to smoking.

1 comment:

Elinor Phillips said...

You are absolutely right. maybe this time its not bad if we give way in trying out cancer alternative treatments, other than those expensive medications.


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