This section contains the latest highlighted research for patients from ASCO medical journals, including the Journal of Clinical Oncology, as well as an archive of research highlights from previous ASCO scientific meetings (2011-2015). For the latest research highlights from more recent ASCO meetings, visit the Cancer.Net Blog or check out Cancer.Net’s audio podcasts and videos for patients.
To search this archive, use the drop-down menu below. You can select a specific year, meeting or publication, and/or a specific topic, such as a type of cancer. Selecting "All" will take you to a complete list of articles that appear under all categories.
A recent data analysis showed that obesity increases the risk of death from estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer for women who have not been through menopause.
A large, long-term study showed for the first time that women with BRCA1 mutations should undergo preventive surgical removal of the ovaries (prophylactic oophorectomy) by age 35 to achieve the greatest reduction in ovarian cancer risk. Researchers showed that waiting until a later age to have the surgery was associated with a significantly higher ovarian cancer risk. In addition, the investigators reported for the first time that prophylactic oophorectomy reduces the overall risk of death by 77 percent among women with either a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.
A large-scale survey of Long Island women who were having mammography to screen for breast cancer shows that the majority (more than 90%) either under- or overestimated their risk of developing this disease during their lifetime. Additionally, four out of every 10 women surveyed (40%) said they had never discussed their personal breast cancer risk with a doctor.
A large study found that women who received radiation therapy to treat ductal carcinoma in situ of the breast (DCIS) had no increased risk of developing cardiovascular (heart) disease compared with the general population or patients with DCIS who only had surgery. Previous studies involving patients with breast and other cancers have shown that radiation therapy directed at areas near the heart can increase their long-term risk of developing cardiovascular disease, so these results may help women who are deciding on their treatment plan and may reassure DCIS survivors who received radiation therapy.
A new study has found that using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), in addition to mammography, before or immediately after a lumpectomy (surgical removal of the tumor and a small, cancer-free margin of tissue around the tumor) was not linked to a decrease in how often women with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) of the breast experienced a local recurrence (cancer that comes back in the same area of the breast after treatment) or contralateral breast cancer (a new tumor that develops in the other breast).
Women with higher-risk, early-stage breast cancer who received weekly chemotherapy with paclitaxel (Taxol) after surgery as part of a clinical trial lived for the same amount of time without the cancer returning as those who received higher doses of the same drug every two weeks (known as dose-dense therapy). However, the researchers found that the women who received chemotherapy every week experienced fewer and less serious treatment-related side effects.
Results from a recent study show that directing radiation therapy to the underarm lymph nodes works as well as removing the lymph nodes with surgery and is less likely to cause lymphedema for women with early-stage breast cancer. Lymphedema is the abnormal buildup of fluid (lymph) in the arm, causing swelling that can be painful and limit a person’s movement. It is a common side effect from both surgery and radiation therapy to the underarm lymph nodes.
In a recent genetic study, researchers found that one in five African American women with breast cancer have an inherited (passed down in the family) mutation (change) in at least one of the 18 genes that are linked with a higher risk of breast cancer. Compared to the general population, African American women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age, die from the disease, and have triple-negative breast cancer. Triple-negative breast cancer is a fast-growing and difficult-to-treat cancer that does not have hormone receptors (for the hormones estrogen and/or progesterone) or HER2 receptors (a protein found on some breast tumors). Researchers have suspected that these differences are due to inherited genes linked to breast cancer, but this is the first study to look at all known breast cancer gene mutations, not just BRCA genes.
A recent study comparing five or 10 years of tamoxifen (Nolvadex, Soltamox) therapy for early-stage, estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer showed that continuing tamoxifen for longer than five years further lowers the risk of a breast cancer recurrence (return of the cancer) and death. ER-positive breast cancer uses the hormone estrogen to grow and spread. Tamoxifen is a type of hormonal therapy that blocks the effects of estrogen on tumor growth and has been proven to lower the risk of a breast cancer recurrence and lengthen the lives of women with early-stage breast cancer. Currently, the standard length of tamoxifen therapy is five years, and women start it right after finishing surgery or chemotherapy.
Women who have a higher risk of the cancer developing in the other breast often have at least two first-degree relatives with breast or ovarian cancer and/or have changes in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. In this survey, women who had those risk factors were more likely to choose CPM. However, worry about recurrence also caused women to choose CPM, as 90% of women who received CPM said they were “very worried about recurrence” compared with 80% of women who received a mastectomy for only the breast with cancer.