Research Summaries

Using the drop-down menu below, read about highlighted scientific news for patients from ASCO's Annual Meetings, Symposia, and medical journals for the past three years. 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.

The 2014 event was held May 30-June 3. The next ASCO Annual Meeting will be held May 29-June 2, 2015, in Chicago. To read the Annual Meeting summaries compiled into a yearly newsletter, you can also review Research Round Up: News for Patients from the ASCO Annual Meeting. Don’t forget to check out audio podcasts and videos about this news, as well. And a list of upcoming Symposia can be found here. And, in addition to the highlighted studies below, thousands of scientific abstracts are released each year at different ASCO meetings. To search the entire collection of meeting abstracts, visit ASCO's website.

September 4, 2013

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.

September 4, 2013

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).

September 4, 2013

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.

September 11, 2012

In a recent study, researchers found that a new device called MarginProbe helps make sure enough tissue is removed during a lumpectomy. A lumpectomy is the removal of the tumor and some of the surrounding tissue, called a margin, during an operation. Currently, surgeons often have to wait one or two weeks to find out if the tissue around the tumor that was removed during surgery contains cancer cells. Because of this, up to 40% of women who have had a lumpectomy need to have more surgeries to remove this additional cancerous tissue.

September 11, 2012

Using a specialized 21-gene test of a breast tumor’s genes, researchers found that the result, called a Recurrence Score (RS), predicted the prognosis (chance of recovery) for patients with estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer that has spread to the axillary (underarm) lymph nodes. Previous studies have shown that these 21 genes help predict the risk of recurrence (cancer that comes back after treatment) and the risk of death from cancer for women with breast cancer that has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes.

September 11, 2012

In a recent review of previous studies, researchers found that bone scans, liver ultrasounds, and chest x-rays are not good tests for finding cancer that has spread for women newly diagnosed with breast cancer who have no symptoms of the disease. Bone scans, liver ultrasounds, and chest x-rays are called imaging tests and are used to create pictures of the inside of the body. These tests are often used to find possible metastases (areas where cancer has spread), but there is no standard procedure or solid evidence that they are beneficial in this situation.

September 11, 2012

A new simulation study indicates that women with stage II breast cancer who have a high risk of the cancer remaining in their axillary (underarm) lymph nodes after treatment, called residual nodal disease, may benefit from having these lymph nodes removed in a procedure called an axillary lymph node dissection. Women who have more cancerous lymph nodes in the underarm generally have a higher risk of residual nodal disease. Cancer in this area is found through a sentinel lymph node biopsy. A sentinel lymph node biopsy is the removal of one or a few lymph nodes in the underarm to look for cancer cells. If cancer cells are found, additional treatment may be needed.

September 6, 2011

Researchers have created a new method to predict the risk that a woman will develop lymphedema within five years after lymph nodes are removed as part of breast cancer treatment. Lymphedema is an abnormal buildup of fluid following lymph node removal, specifically in the arm for women with breast cancer who had the axillary or underarm lymph nodes removed (called axillary lymph node dissection). It affects approximately four million patients worldwide, and it's currently very difficult to predict who will develop lymphedema.

September 6, 2011

In a recent analysis of information from nearly 6,000 women with breast cancer, researchers found that women younger than 50 were more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer by feeling the tumor in the breast (called palpation) than with mammography when compared with women older than 50. This study used a statewide breast cancer registry from the Michigan Breast Oncology Quality Initiative to look at breast cancer diagnosis and treatment information to find out how the 2009 changes to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) breast cancer screening recommendations might affect how women find breast cancer, particularly those between  ages 40 and 49. The USPSTF recommends that mammograms should be given every two years for women ages 50 to 74, and that women age 40 to 49 should not be offered regular mammography but should discuss the risks and benefits with their doctors. The recommendations also discourage teaching breast self-examination.

September 6, 2011

Two recent studies showed that women younger than 40 with breast cancer who had a lumpectomy had a similar risk of recurrence (cancer that comes back after treatment) and lived as long as those who had a mastectomy. A lumpectomy (also called breast-conservation therapy or surgery) is the removal of the tumor in the breast and some of the surrounding healthy tissue. A mastectomy is the removal of the entire breast. Being diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age is considered a risk factor for breast cancer recurrence, and studies have shown that more young women are choosing mastectomy instead of lumpectomy even though research has not shown that women who choose mastectomy live longer than those who choose lumpectomy.