Archive for September 2018

My Story: What Breast Cancer Awareness Month Means to Me

Insight Articles
September 28, 2018
Eric Fitzsimmons, Copy Editor and Content Coordinator

Every year, people, companies and organizations around the country recognize October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The occasion brings a wave of attention to breast cancer, but m…

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Welcome to the Treatment and Side Effects blog space! Here you can read expert Q&As, interviews, updates on breast cancer treatments, expert advice on side effect management strategies, and more.

Eight Tips for Long-Distance Caregivers

Five Things to Look for When Finding the Right Doctors for Your Breast Cancer Treatment

2018 American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting Coverage

2017 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium Coverage

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Eight Tips for Long-Distance Caregivers

It’s not easy caring for a loved one with breast cancer who lives more than an hour away. As a long-distance caregiver, you might feel unsure about how to best help, worried about the future, or guilty that you can’t assist more with your loved one’s day-to-day care.

“It’s hard enough to deal with all the unknowns that go along with a breast cancer diagnosis, such as not knowing how your loved one will respond to treatment. But when you don’t live nearby, you may feel even more helpless,” says Veronica Cardenas, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist who is part of the Patient and Family Support Services team at Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health.

In this guest blog post, Dr. Cardenas shares eight tips on how to take an active, meaningful role in caring for your loved one when you don’t live nearby:

1. Talk with your loved one about how you can help

First, you should directly ask the person you’re caring for, “How can I be most helpful?” It can cause friction when caregivers make assumptions. Some of the things you can offer to do when you don’t live nearby include:

  • Calling in during doctor visits to take notes and ask questions
  • Handling insurance forms, medical records, and household bills
  • Finding out who you can contact on your loved one’s medical team to get advice quickly or after hours. Some cancer centers have a 24/7 hotline staffed by nurses, or an online patient portal for messaging.
  • Helping out financially or setting up a GoFundMe page to raise money for medical and living expenses
  • Asking the hospital social work team about resources for in-home supportive care and assisting with setting that up if your loved one needs it
  • Using websites such as CaringBridge and Lotsa Helping Hands to send updates to …

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Most Women Getting Genetic Testing Don’t Get Counseling From Genetics Professional

A study has found that only about a third of women who undergo testing for an abnormal BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene received counseling from a trained professional genetic counselor before they were tested.

The study was published online on Oct. 1, 2015 by JAMA Oncology. Read the abstract of “Utilization and Outcomes of BRCA Genetic Testing and Counseling in a National Commercially Insured Population: The ABOUT Study.”

Most inherited cases of breast cancer are associated with one of two abnormal genes: BRCA1 (BReast CAncer gene one) or BRCA2 (BReast CAncer gene two).

Women with an abnormal BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene:

  • have up to an 85% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer
  • have a much higher-than-average lifetime risk of ovarian cancer; estimates range from 15% to 60%

U.S. guidelines say that BRCA testing should be considered when:

  • many women in a family have been diagnosed with breast and/or ovarian cancer, particularly if the women were younger than 50 when diagnosed
  • some women in a family have been diagnosed with cancer in both breasts
  • there is both breast and ovarian cancer in a family
  • men in a family have been diagnosed with breast cancer
  • there is breast cancer in a family and either male relatives on the same side of the family have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at a young age or relatives on the same side of the family have been diagnosed with gastrointestinal cancers, such as pancreas, gall bladder, or stomach cancer
  • a family is of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish descent

The ABOUT (American BRCA Outcomes and Utilization of Testing) study was a collaboration between the University of South Florida, the American Cancer Society, Aetna, and FORCE (Fa…

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Flu Shot: Q&A

What is a flu shot?

The flu shot, or seasonal influenza vaccine, is a mixture of dead flu viruses that prepares the immune system to fight the actual viruses if they enter the body. The immune system remembers the viruses in the flu shot and is ready to launch a response if they show up in your body. After you get the shot, it takes about 2 weeks for your body to develop antibodies that can help protect you against infection from the viruses.

It’s important to get a flu shot every year. The influenza viruses used in the flu shot vary from year to year, depending on researchers’ predictions about which ones are likely to be going around that year. You’ll want to make sure you’re protected.

Getting the shot doesn’t guarantee you won’t get the flu, but it does mean that you have a much smaller chance of getting sick from it.

Why is the flu shot important for people affected by breast cancer?

Getting a flu shot is particularly important for people with weak immune systems because they are the ones who are the most vulnerable to serious complications if they actually catch the flu. These people include babies, the elderly, people with allergies, and people with chronic or acute illnesses. Since breast cancer treatments can weaken your immune system, it is especially important for you to get a flu shot. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who have cancer or had it in the past are at higher risk of flu complications. The CDC also recommends that anyone who lives with you should receive the regular flu vaccine as well (but not Flu-mist, which is made from a live virus).

Aging also weakens the immune system, increasing the risk of complications from flu. If you are age 65 or older, ask your doctor about the new high-dose flu vaccines that are available for people over 65.

When should you get the flu shot?

The CDC recommends getting the seasonal flu sho…

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National Grassroots Initiative Launched to Address Fears and Empower Women to Take the Fright Out of Breast Cancer

Launched in Tandem with Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Halloween Season, Initiative Fights Fear and Anxiety as Obstacles to Prevention, Early Detection, and Treatment

PHILADELPHIA, PA, September 6, 2017 – When pink season arrives each October, much attention is focused on encouraging women to know their risk of breast cancer and get annual breast screenings, but we often fail to address the fears that block those efforts. 

Today, a nonprofit organization and the world’s leading online resource for breast cancer and breast health information and support, launched Take the Fright Out of Breast CancerTM, a national grassroots initiative to turn Halloween into a celebration with a purpose: to replace the fear of breast cancer with knowledge that will help women reduce their risk of the disease or its recurrence and learn what they need to know about early detection and testing options.  

“In my opinion, being diagnosed with breast cancer is one of every woman’s greatest fears. And as a breast oncologist and breast cancer survivor, I also know the fear of cancer coming back is always there,” explained Marisa Weiss, M.D., founder and chief medical officer, “Far too often, women miss the opportunity for potentially life-saving treatments because they fear going to the doctor, ignore a lump, or avoid getting an annual mammogram. We launched Take the Fright Out to empower women with the knowledge, clarity, and confidence they need to make health decisions assuredly and lessen the fears and anxieties women associate with this disease.” 

During this Halloween season and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Take the Fright Out of Breast Cancer aims to make orange the new pink by encouraging people to host grassroots events across the country. is asking people to join Take the Fright Out this fall by hosting an event and ra…

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