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Second Biopsy of Breast Cancer Helps Doctors Better Treat Disease

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By Stephen Lau and editing by Stacey Sexton
Comparing a new biopsy of progressive or recurring breast cancer with the original biopsy helps doctors to develop a better treatment plan for the disease, say the scientists from Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH).
The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, was based on a previous study of 29 biopsies that first indicated the importance of a second biopsy in breast cancer recurrence.  

Encouraged by this finding, the PMH researchers conducted a new study on 121 biopsies from patients with progressive or recurring disease to see if there is any change in the predictive markers like hormone or HER2 receptors.  The status of predictive markers can help oncologists provide effective personalized medicine to an individual.
The researchers found that the negative receptors could change into positive receptors, which means new ways to treat breast cancer may be available in the future.
“It’s been known for over 30 years that recurring cancer can differ from the primary cancer, but nobody knew if this was important,” says Dr. Amir, leading researcher from the PMH Cancer Program.  “More recently we have learned that patients with a change in receptor status may have worse outcomes from breast cancer, possibly due to basing treatment on incorrect predictive markers.”
This finding suggests that people suffering from breast cancer should consult with their oncologists to determine if a second biopsy is needed to confirm that their treatment therapy is still correct.
“Our study shows that if treatment is modified according to biopsy results from a metastatic site, the survival rates of patients with a recurrent disease which is different from the original tumor were similar to those where disease was the same,” said Dr. Amir.
According to the National Cancer Institute, it is estimated that 232,620 new breast cancer cases occurred in America in 2011. Over 90% of them occurred in women, and 39,970 people will die from the disease this year.
To reduce the risk of breast cancer, it is recommended that women breastfeed.  Moderate consumption of Vitamin D and having a balanced diet are also very important. Low levels of Vitamin D, lack of exercise, smoking and exposure to chemicals are linked to increased risk of breast cancer.

Many lifestyle parameters affect the risk of breast cancer and the prognosis of the disease.  What may help prevent or treat the disease include vitamin C, fruits and vegetables, walnuts, caloric restriction, vegan diet, fish oil, drinking coffee, vitamin d, antioxidants, soy foods, drinking green tea, watercress,  omega-3 fatty acids, seafood, Mediterranean diet, and physical activity among others.

What may increase the risk for breast cancer include eating red meat and dairy products, eating sugar, having high sex hormones, aluminum salts in antiperspirants, eating western diet, cigarette smoking, using household cleaning products, plastic chemicals, carcinogens in fries, antibiotics, hormone replacement therapy, being obese, and physical inactivity among others.

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