breast cancer

A Personal Story About Cancer

Nov 13, 2014

This is a reflection from Here & Now’s Alex Ashlock on how cancer has touched his family.

It was a cloudy Monday morning in normally sunny Southern California. People were shuffling into the University of California San Diego Health Center in La Jolla.

Some pushed walkers. Some wore masks.

In the waiting room, a man sat next to a woman in a wheelchair. She looked really sick. He was fighting back tears and losing the fight. She patted him softly on his shoulder.

The lump first surfaced in my breast in 1989, when I was 36 years old.

To many young women, a small lump like that wouldn't be cause for alarm because most breast lumps are benign. But there's a long history of breast cancer in my family, so I immediately consulted a renowned breast surgeon. "It's nothing to worry about," she said. My mammogram was completely normal. She thought the lump was merely normal breast tissue.

But four years later I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer.

HER2-Positive Breast Cancer

Oct 31, 2014
stock photo

“We talk about breast cancer and other forms of cancer often here on Sound Medicine. And we can sometimes get into the weeds in discussing different genes and treatments and whatnot. So we thought we’d take a step back now and dig a little deeper into one particularly common form of breast cancer, and how treatments for it have really been transformed in the past decade. Out of an estimated 200 thousand cases of breast cancer each year, every one in five falls into the category of “HER2” cancer… Joining me to discuss what that means and how it’s treated is Dr. Eric Winer. Dr. Winer is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and director of the breast oncology center at the Dana Farber Institute in Boston.”

Genetic Screening Could Reduce Number Of Breast Cancer Cases

Oct 31, 2014
Susana Fernandez/

Should every newborn baby girl be genetically screened for breast-cancer risk? That isn’t cost-effective — yet. But if it were, would it be worthwhile?

A previous study said no. But in a paper published Oct. 23 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, researchers at the School of Medicine suggest otherwise.

Stat: Skirt Size

Oct 10, 2014
Maureen Didde/

There could be a link between waist size and risk of breast cancer, according to a recent study. 

INDIANAPOLIS -- An Indiana University cancer researcher and colleagues have found that the number of moles on a woman’s body might predict her risk of developing breast cancer.

Ed Uthman/

Interview Highlights

Lewis: A prominent breast cancer researcher recently called for a major expansion in genetic screening for breast and ovarian cancer. Mary-Claire King won this year’s Lasker Award, known as the American Nobel Prize in medicine. She discovered the gene known as BRCA1, which can mutate and lead to breast cancer. In accepting the award, she suggested that all women age 30 and older should be screened to see if they have that gene. But another breast cancer expert, Dr. Eric Winer, of Harvard Medical School, told me he’s not ready to sign on to such an expansive undertaking.

The federal government has poured more than $3 billion into breast cancer research over the past couple of decades, but the results have been disappointing. The disease remains a stubborn killer of women.

A prominent scientist has started a big new debate about breast cancer. Geneticist Mary-Claire King of the University of Washington, who identified the first breast cancer gene, is recommending that all women get tested for genetic mutations that can cause breast cancer.

"My colleagues and I are are taking a really bold step," King said. "We're recommending that all adult women in America, regardless of their personal history and regardless of their family history, be offered genetic testing for the breast cancer genes."

Ed Uthman/

"More new cases of the Ebola virus have been detected in part of Guinea, a country that claimed to have the outbreak under control. The World Health Organization says the virus is out of control and predicts it will spread to ten countries and affect up to 20,000 people... More US women under the age of 40 with early stages of breast cancer are choosing to have both breasts removed as a precautionary step, even though a new study found that the death rate for those who have a double mastectomy and those who opt for a lumpectomy about the same."