Archive for May 22nd, 2010

This is very rare ,although not as rare as one would hope .I have found several other cases but chose this one to demonstrate Cancer cares not who his next victim will be.. Hannah ,aged 10, is known to her family as ‘Sweetpea’.

Young girl dealing with breast cancer at the age of 10
By KJ Mullins.

At the age of ten Hannah Powell-Auslam should be putting pink ribbons in dolls hair instead of dealing with breast cancer. The young girl was diagnosed recently with stage 2 cancer, a rarity in young girls.
When Hannah complained to her mother of an itch no one could have thought that in days the girl would be having surgery a mass. The doctors didn’t expect to find cancer. because of that the surgery didn’t remove all of the tumor because it had grown into breast tissue. The mass was sent off for testing with the doctor reassuring the family not to worry because breast cancer does not happen with children.
Sadly the truth was that Hannah does has Stage IIA Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, an adult form of breast cancer.
Hannah had a mastectomy of her left breast on Thursday. When she is older reconstruction surgery, which she calls recreation surgery can be performed.
Sadly one of the sentinel lymph nodes have come back from pathology as positive for cancer. Still her doctor believes that Hannah can beat this disease. She has an 85 per cent chance of a five-year disease-free survival.
The family has had difficulty finding an oncologist that deals with breast cancer in one so young. They are working with the doctors at UCLA Medical Center who deal with adults going through the disease.
Her battle with cancer is being journaled at ourlittlesweetpea.com, a site started by her uncle and father.

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When I Cry.

Words can be a painting a picture or a photograph. Words are what makes us hurt or make us cry.

For me music is how I show my emotion. If a friend is sad I send a song to cheer them up. Sometimes I will just send a song about friendship and how I am feeling.

If eyes are the windows to the soul then music is the food of love.

Words of kindness when you are sick, help the healing.

Words and the one you love by your side, speeds the recovery.

Marshall Hall has a voice full of soul and the words although spoken to God ,could also be to a spouse.

The images are breath taking and make you want to live forever.

The words are of love and understanding.

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What is Herceptin?

It is not chemotherapy or a hormone therapy. It is called a monoclonal antibody which utilises the natural immune system to kill tumour cells. Although cancers grow mainly beyond normal growth control, they are sufficiently similar to the own body’s cells to enable them to hide from the immune system (the body’s defence mechanism against “foreign” attack). There are, however, some subtle differences between cancer cells and normal cells. Some of these differences may be detected with special sensitive laboratory tests. In the case of breast cancer there may be too many copies of a cancer-causing gene called an oncogene. This oncogene called HER2 is part of a family of genes called c-erbB-2 (otherwise known as her-2-/neu). Each HER2 gene results in the expression of a receptor on the surface of the cell. If the gene makes too much receptor, it is referred to as being “over expressed”. Cells that over express too much of the HER2 gene can be a specific target for therapies such as Herceptin. Technology now exists to make antibodies in the laboratory called monoclonal antibodies. Specific antibodies have been made to detect and attach to the HER2 receptors. The antibody is therefore known as anti-HER2 called trastuzumab or its commercial name Herceptin.

How does Herceptin work?

Herceptin works in a different way than standard cancer therapy, such as chemotherapy or hormone therapies. Herceptin® (Trastuzumab) is believed to function in three main ways:

1) Blocking tumour cell growth: Herceptin binds to the HER2 (receptors) on the tumour cell surface and this stops the receptor signalling the cell to grow and divide.

2) Signalling of the immune system: Certain immune system cells, called natural killer (NK) cells, attach to Herceptin when it is bound to the tumour cells. The NK cells then detect an abnormality, and kill the tumour cell.

3) Working with chemotherapy: Herceptin and chemotherapy work in different ways, but when given together, the two drugs can form a partnership (synergy) so kill tumour cells more effectively than either Herceptin or chemotherapy when given alone.

Who is eligible for Herceptin?

Patients must have tumours which over express the HER2 protein (see above). Herceptin is currently approved for use in patients whose cancer has spread from the breast to other sites (metastasised). It is usually given in combination with chemotherapy drugs called taxanes. It is sometimes given with other chemotherapy drugs at the discretion of the oncologist but these combinations have not yet gained regulatory approval. Herceptin can also be given on its own (monotherapy) if patients have received a taxane or anthracycline containing chemotherapy regimens previously (or cannot tolerate these drugs). For these indications the aim of treatment is not to cure, but to control specific symptoms caused by the cancer. This is otherwise known as palliative treatment. It is hoped that treatment improves the quality of life; therefore the side effects from the treatment should not outweigh the benefits of shrinking the tumour.

There is now emerging evidence that Herceptin is likely to have a benefit after the initial diagnosis of HER2+ve breast cancer (adjuvant). These trials are very new and regulatory bodies have not yet given their approval.

Preparation for Herceptin. As Herceptin is a very specific treatment, your doctor needs to find out if your tumour over-expresses HER-2 receptors before even considering treatment. This is usually achieved by performing a special laboratory test on a small piece of you original tumour (from the time of your original surgery or biopsy). Occasionally, your doctor may need a more recent tumour for analysis and may recommend a further biopsy. In either case the tumour is usually send to a lab which specialises in specific tests called immunohistochemistry. A report will be issued by the pathologist on whether your tumour over expresses HER2 and how much is expressed. Research has shown that 20-25% of women have tumours which do over express HER2. If the cancer does over express HER2 it will look brown/red down the microscope (see 1st left picture). Pathologists have a scale of 0-3 depending on the intensity of staining, if it 1 or 0 it is regarded as HER-2 negative and Herceptin should not be used as treatment If it is grade 2 then a more sensitive test called FISH is performed, which looks at the DNA of the tumour cells (second left picture). All tumours which are FISH positive or have 3+ intensity staining on immunohistochemistry are eligible for Herceptin.

How is Herceptin administered?

Herceptin cannot be taken orally as it would be destroyed by your stomach. It is, therefore, given as a drip into a vein usually over 90 minutes followed by a period of observation. Occasionally, it is possible to get an allergic reaction, particularly to the first treatment. The nurses will therefore be checking “how you are feeling” and measuring your breathing, pulse and blood pressure blood regularly. If all goes well the drip can last 1-2 hours, but sometimes, in response to mild reaction, it may have to be slowed down over several hours. Rarely if the allergic reaction is prominent it has to be stopped altogether and abandoned. To avoid a mild reaction often paracetamol and an antihistamine are given before the infusion. The dose is calculated by the weight of the patient, this is most often 4mg/kg on the first day then 2mg/kg once a week. This treatment continues until the tumour stops responding. However, based on recent information your doctor may choose to give Herceptin every three weeks particularly if this coincides with the chemotherapy visits. Herceptin is usually given within a cancer department or hospital. In some areas of the country, after the first few treatments it may be possible to receive the Herceptin infusion in your own home provided these facilities have been set up and are available locally. As mentioned above, Herceptin may also be given in conjunction with chemotherapy. The dose, frequency of treatment and side effects will also depend on the chemotherapy drugs used. The rationale and the specific regimen will be explained to you by the doctors and nurses before therapy starts.

Are there any side effects to Herceptin?

When given with chemotherapy most of the side effects relate to the chemotherapy drugs (see chemotherapy). Herceptin generally does not make these worse. Herceptin does have some mild side effects on its own which may occur in addition to those caused by chemotherapy. As mentioned above this does not mean you will definitely get them. It is also possible you may experience a side effect not mentioned here:-

The early effects often are related to an “allergic” reaction. If they do occur, it is often while the drug is being infused or shortly afterwards.

Potential side effects include:

Fever and sweating
Runny nose
Skin flushing – redness
Tightness in the chest or difficulty breathing
Discomfort in the throat
If associated with a fast pulse and lower blood pressure these symptoms indicate an early allergic reaction. As mentioned above if these symptoms are prominent the infusion has to be slowed down or abandoned altogether. To avoid a mild reaction often paracetamol and an antihistamine are given before the infusion.

The ongoing effects may occur at any time whilst you are receiving Herceptin. These are usually worse a day or two after the infusion and could include:-

Weakness, lethargy or tiredness
Sore eyes
Joint pains
Skin rashes
Shortness of breath on exertion
Late side effects may occur after receiving Herceptin for some time. The most important of these is heart damage – this is rare (In clinical trials around 4%). To ensure patients receiving Herceptin do not experience any damage to the heart, all patients must have a test for heart function before starting treatment and at regular intervals (usually every few months) after starting Herceptin. These tests include an echocardiogram or MUGA scan. The risks of the development of heart damage are higher if you have previously received chemotherapy containing drugs called anthracyclines or if you already have an underlying heart or lung problem.

How will I know the treatment is working?

Your doctor would require evidence that treatment is helping particularly after a 2-3 months. This can be achieved from a number of sources including; an improvement in a specific symptom such as pain, a shrinkage of a lump on examination, improvements in a blood test or often evidence from repeat X-rays and scans such as CT or MRI. If there is no palliative benefit by this time treatment may be stopped.

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Don’t Give Up.

This song has a special place in my heart. Stephan bought me this CD when I was half way through chemotherapy and I thought I could not go on…It is not about Cancer but it is about not giving up.

Thank you Stephan for ALWAYS being there. I could not have fought this alone.

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Can deodarants cause Breast Cancer? this is a loaded question and for years I would look for only certain types of ingredients that did not contain certain chemicals in deodarants.

I am lucky, very little body hair returned after chemotherapy. I no longer need to shave or use underarm sprays. I guess you could call this a bonus side effect .

To Spray or Not to Spray. You decide.

Articles in the press and on the Internet have warned that underarm antiperspirants (a preparation that reduces underarm sweat) or deodorants (a preparation that destroys or masks unpleasant odors) cause breast cancer (1). The reports have suggested that these products contain harmful substances, which can be absorbed through the skin or enter the body through nicks caused by shaving. Some scientists have also proposed that certain ingredients in underarm antiperspirants or deodorants may be related to breast cancer because they are applied frequently to an area next to the breast (2, 3).

However, researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a part of the National Institutes of Health, are not aware of any conclusive evidence linking the use of underarm antiperspirants or deodorants and the subsequent development of breast cancer. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates food, cosmetics, medicines, and medical devices, also does not have any evidence or research data that ingredients in underarm antiperspirants or deodorants cause cancer.

What do scientists know about the ingredients in antiperspirants and deodorants?
Aluminum-based compounds are used as the active ingredient in antiperspirants. These compounds form a temporary plug within the sweat duct that stops the flow of sweat to the skin’s surface. Some research suggests that aluminum-based compounds, which are applied frequently and left on the skin near the breast, may be absorbed by the skin and cause estrogen-like (hormonal) effects (3). Because estrogen has the ability to promote the growth of breast cancer cells, some scientists have suggested that the aluminum-based compounds in antiperspirants may contribute to the development of breast cancer (3).

Some research has focused on parabens, which are preservatives used in some deodorants and antiperspirants that have been shown to mimic the activity of estrogen in the body’s cells (4). Although parabens are used in many cosmetic, food, and pharmaceutical products, according to the FDA, most major brands of deodorants and antiperspirants in the United States do not currently contain parabens. Consumers can look at the ingredient label to determine if a deodorant or antiperspirant contains parabens. Parabens are usually easy to identify by name, such as methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, or benzylparaben. The National Library of Medicine’s Household Products Database also has information about the ingredients used in most major brands of deodorants and antiperspirants. This database is available at http://householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov/index.htm on the Internet.

The belief that parabens build up in breast tissue was supported by a 2004 study, which found parabens in 18 of 20 samples of tissue from human breast tumors (5). However, this study did not prove that parabens cause breast tumors (4). The authors of this study did not analyze healthy breast tissue or tissues from other areas of the body and did not demonstrate that parabens are found only in cancerous breast tissue (5). Furthermore, this research did not identify the source of the parabens and cannot establish that the buildup of parabens is due to the use of deodorants or antiperspirants.

More research is needed to specifically examine whether the use of deodorants or antiperspirants can cause the buildup of parabens and aluminum-based compounds in breast tissue. Additional research is also necessary to determine whether these chemicals can either alter the DNA in some cells or cause other breast cell changes that may lead to the development of breast cancer.

What have scientists learned about the relationship between antiperspirants or deodorants and breast cancer?
In 2002, the results of a study looking for a relationship between breast cancer and underarm antiperspirants/deodorants were reported (6). This study did not show any increased risk for breast cancer in women who reported using an underarm antiperspirant or deodorant. The results also showed no increased breast cancer risk for women who reported using a blade (nonelectric) razor and an underarm antiperspirant or deodorant, or for women who reported using an underarm antiperspirant or deodorant within 1 hour of shaving with a blade razor. These conclusions were based on interviews with 813 women with breast cancer and 793 women with no history of breast cancer.

Findings from a different study examining the frequency of underarm shaving and antiperspirant/deodorant use among 437 breast cancer survivors were released in 2003 (7). This study found that the age of breast cancer diagnosis was significantly earlier in women who used these products and shaved their underarms more frequently. Furthermore, women who began both of these underarm hygiene habits before 16 years of age were diagnosed with breast cancer at an earlier age than those who began these habits later. While these results suggest that underarm shaving with the use of antiperspirants/deodorants may be related to breast cancer, it does not demonstrate a conclusive link between these underarm hygiene habits and breast cancer.

In 2006, researchers examined antiperspirant use and other factors among 54 women with breast cancer and 50 women without breast cancer. The study found no association between antiperspirant use and the risk of breast cancer; however, family history and the use of oral contraceptives were associated with an increased risk of breast cancer (8).

Because studies of antiperspirants and deodorants and breast cancer have provided conflicting results, additional research is needed to investigate this relationship and other factors that may be involved.

Where can someone get more information on breast cancer risk?
People who are concerned about their breast cancer risk are encouraged to talk with their doctor. More information about breast cancer risk can be found on the NCI’s Cancer Risk: Understanding the Puzzle Web site. This interactive Web site, which includes information about how to reduce breast cancer risk, can be accessed at http://understandingrisk.cancer.gov on the Internet.

U.S. residents may wish to contact the NCI’s Cancer Information Service (CIS) (see below) with any remaining questions or concerns about breast cancer. Inquirers who live outside the United States may wish to contact the International Union Against Cancer (UICC) for information about a resource in their country. The UICC Web site is located at http://www.uicc.org on the Internet. Also, some countries have organizations that offer services similar to those of the U.S. CIS. A list of international cancer information services can be found at http://www.icisg.org/meet_memberslist.htm#full on the Internet.

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Hospital employees put together this video and wore pink gloves just to make you smile. Are you smiling? Then they did a good job.

Positive thinking is half the battle and when you smile it is impossible to cry.

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Singer and actress Olivier Newton John, also a Breast Cancer survivor ,talks about the hidden dangers of mammograms.

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