Friday, October 25, 2013

Great News for Pennsylvania Women!

The PA Breast Cancer Coalition’s Dense Breast Notification Act was passed by our state legislature!

It just needs signed by our Governor, Tom Corbett.   This Act will require Radiologists in PA to notify women of their breast density at the time of their mammogram.

Why is this Important?

Because there are a group of women “falling through the cracks” that are not having their breast cancer diagnosed until a later stage because of the density of their breast tissue.

There is enormous variability in the density of breast tissue from woman to woman.   Some women have very dense fibrous tissue decreasing the ability of a mammogram to “see” through this tissue to diagnose a cancer.  Some women have very fatty and not so dense breast tissue making finding a cancer a little easier with mammogram.  

There are many factors that may increase our risk of breast cancer over time such as our family history, having radiation therapy for cancer as a child, carrying the BRCA gene mutation and others.

It has been known for a long time that breast density can also be an independent risk factor for breast cancer.

Well, if a mammogram doesn't work that well, what will help to make that diagnosis if you have dense breast tissue?

Discuss this with your physician and consider evaluation possibly with Breast Ultrasound, Mammogram with Tomosynthesis, or possibly breast MRI screening.

Be sure you know your Risks and your options for screening!  And Don’t Miss your Mammogram!  You are very Important!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


One of the most important discoveries concerning breast cancer has been the realization by many scientists that breast cancer is many diseases.

Have you heard of HER-2 and what does that mean if your cancer is HER-2 positive?

HER-2 stands for human epidermal growth factor receptor-2.  This protein can promote the growth of cancer cells.  One in every 5 breast cancers makes too much HER-2 due to a gene mutation.  This causes the cancer to be more aggressive; however treatment that specifically targets HER-2 is very effective.

This discovery was made by a group of researchers lead by Dr. Dennis Slamon, Head of the Revlon/UCLA Women’s Cancer Research Program.   He states that “ there is a molecular diversity of human cancers that has largely gone unappreciated , and it has gone unappreciated because we lump things together.”   Dr. Slamon and his team looked at this HER-2 protein and found that if an antibody was added to the receptor gene that had mutated , tumor growth dropped dramatically.   Hence the “ birth” of the drug Herceptin to treat HER-2 Positive breast cancers.

More and more we are learning about the genetics of breast cancer and how individualized each women’s cancer may be.  As we learn more about the molecular differences we are learning more about treatments for each individual patient.

If you would like to hear more from Dr. Slamon he will be a guest at  this year’s  Breast Cancer Coalition Conference at the Harrisburg Hilton on October 15, 2013.   This conference is open to patient’s and families as well as caregiver’s.   

More information:  PinnacleHealth Breast Care Center