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.
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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.
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.
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.