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June 24th, 2014
06:14 PM ET

Do I need a 3-D mammogram?

Digital breast tomosynthesis, better known as 3-D mammography, can find more invasive, and in some cases more dangerous, cancers than a traditional digital mammogram, a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association this week concludes.

But do you need one?

Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2011 as a supplement to digital mammography, tomosynthesis creates a 3-D reconstruction of the breast tissue, giving radiologists a clearer view of overlapping slices. This new study found using the combination of digital and 3-D mammography reduces false alarms and unnecessary call backs by 15% in all groups of patients, including younger women and women with dense breast tissue.

The study was funded by Hologic, the manufacturer of the 3-D imaging machine, and the National Cancer Institute.
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Moles may predict breast cancer risk
June 10th, 2014
05:01 PM ET

Moles may predict breast cancer risk

Skin moles may indicate a woman's risk for breast cancer, according to two studies coming out this week in the journal PLOS Medicine. More moles could mean a slightly higher risk, particularly in middle-aged women, researchers say.

Scientists stress that this does not mean people with moles should panic.  The studies do not say if you have moles you will get breast cancer; researchers are still trying to figure out the link between the two.

A study in the United States and another in France followed almost 175,000 middle age women for about 20 years. They looked at women with few or no moles and compared their breast cancer risk to women who had lots of moles – defined in one study as more than 15 on one arm. The studies did not look at cancerous moles but moles in general.

"Women with a lot of moles are a little more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than were women with very few moles," said Dr. Ted Gansler, director of medical content for the American Cancer Society, who was not affiliated with the study.
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Obesity may affect cancer patients' outcomes
May 16th, 2014
10:29 AM ET

Obesity may affect cancer patients' outcomes

Scientists know obese people have an increased risk of getting several types of cancer. But a new study suggests being obese also increases the chance that some patients' cancers will come back,  and increases the likelihood that those patients will die from cancer.

The study was released in advance of the 2014 American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting, which begins on May 30.

Researchers looked at 80,000 patients in 70 early breast cancer trials and analyzed their body mass index, estrogen receptor, menopause status, cancer recurrence and their prognosis.

They compared women with higher BMIs (over 30) to those with normal BMIs (20-25) over a 10-year period. They found for younger, pre-menopausal women who have early breast cancer, obesity appears to be strongly linked to worse outcomes, including death.

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5 studies you may have missed
December 13th, 2013
03:49 PM ET

5 studies you may have missed

Here's a roundup of five medical studies published this week that might give you new insights into your health, mind and body. Remember, correlation is not causation – so if a study finds a connection between two things, it doesn't mean that one causes the other.

This week kicked off the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, at which researchers presented information about the treatment, diagnosis, prevention and biology of this condition. There were several important studies presented there. FULL POST


Telling kids about breast cancer genetic testing
Angelina Jolie says after her preventive mastectomy, she can tell her children they don't need to fear losing her to breast cancer.
July 4th, 2013
11:19 AM ET

Telling kids about breast cancer genetic testing

When Angelina Jolie announced she had undergone a preventive double mastectomy, people asked why. The actress explained that she carried a mutation in a gene known as BRCA1 that increased her chances of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

Her operation opened the nation’s eyes to just how important it is to know about hereditary cancer. According to a new study, a majority of mothers who get genetic testing talk to their children about it, especially if these women get the good news that they don't have the gene mutations.

The research, conducted at Georgetown's Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington, found that most mothers who were considering genetic testing for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations already were thinking of talking with their children, especially if they had a family history of breast and ovarian cancer. They also noted that moms who did not discuss their test results with their children were more likely to regret that decision later on.

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Alcohol may improve breast cancer survival
April 9th, 2013
12:41 PM ET

Alcohol may improve breast cancer survival

Although drinking alcohol is known to be a risk factor for developing breast cancer, a new study suggests that alcohol may not have any effect on whether you survive the disease.  In fact, researchers found that being a moderate drinker may actually improve your chances of survival.

"The results of the study showed there was no adverse relationship between drinking patterns before diagnosis and breast cancer survival," said Polly Newcomb, director of the cancer prevention program at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and the lead author of the study.

"We actually found that relative to non-drinkers there were modestly improved survival rates for moderate alcohol intake."

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February 26th, 2013
04:02 PM ET

Metastatic breast cancer rising in patients younger than 40

Diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer in women younger than 40 has increased 2% a year, every year, from 1976 to 2009, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The increase was seen in women aged 25 to 39 of all races and ethnicities, living in both rural and urban areas.

It's a devastating diagnosis, particularly because a woman younger than 40 who is diagnosed with breast cancer is more likely to have an aggressive form of the disease and face lower survival rates.

But for perspective, the overall population of women who are affected still remains small. FULL POST


CDC: Breast cancer more deadly in black women
November 14th, 2012
06:02 PM ET

CDC: Breast cancer more deadly in black women

While breast cancer is still the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer among American women, the number of patients dying from the disease continues to decline.  That's the good news;  the bad news is that those statistics do not look so good for African-American women.

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that large gaps between black and white women in terms of mortality and stage of diagnosis continue to persist.

Black women still have a disproportionately higher breast cancer death rate - 41% higher than white women. This finding is based on 2005 to 2009 data, showing that even though African-American women have a lower incidence of breast cancer, they are more likely to die of this disease than women in any other racial or ethnic group. FULL POST


Overheard on CNN: Less pink, more cures for breast cancer
October 26th, 2012
07:15 AM ET

Overheard on CNN: Less pink, more cures for breast cancer

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, as you might have gathered from pink ribbons and fundraising events in your community.

Many CNN commenters expressed skepticism about the so-called “pinkwashing” of October, echoing the sentiments of some women quoted in my recent article who don't feel connected to all of the awareness efforts.
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Applegate: 'I miss my exquisite breasts'
October 25th, 2012
04:01 PM ET

Applegate: 'I miss my exquisite breasts'

Christina Applegate, star of the television comedy “Up All Night,” has talked openly about her experience with breast cancer.

Still, the actress wishes she hadn’t been outed to the world in 2008 before the anesthetic from her mastectomy surgery even wore off.

“The good thing is that we got the information out,” Applegate says in this month’s edition of MORE magazine. “But talking about the facts of the disease, I didn’t have to see what was going on with me. I think when it slowed down, all of that came crashing down.”
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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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