Breast-case scenario: New weapons in the fight against breast cancer

The New York Daily News

BY Katie Charles
THE DAILY CHECKUP

Wednesday, April 6th 2011, 12:06 PM

The specialists: Dr. Elisa Port and  Dr. George Raptis on breast cancer

Dr. George Raptis and Dr. Elisa Port, a medical oncologist and a breast surgeon, are combining their expertise as co- directors of the new Dubin Breast Care Center at Mount Sinai Hospital. “The center’s mission is to create a patient-centered environment for women with breast cancer or at risk for it,” says Port.

Who’s at risk

An American woman has a 12.6% chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime, and the American Cancer Society says about 207,000 new invasive breast cancers were diagnosed in 2010.

“Anyone who has breasts is at risk of breast cancer, both men and women,” says Raptis. “However, men account for only 1% of breast cancers.”

Last year, breast cancer caused just under 40,000 deaths.

In all cancers, control mechanisms that regulate cell growth stop working. “With breast cancer, the cells within the ducts or lobules of the breast have started growing and dividing abnormally,” says Port. “In its earliest stages, the cells are still contained to the duct or ductal system, but once they break through the duct wall the cancer is considered invasive.”

Lymphatics and blood vessels carry cancer cells to other parts of the body.

While everyone has some risk of breast cancer, certain groups have elevated risk. “We have identified one genetic cause — a mutation in the BRCA 1 or 2 gene,” says Raptis. “These women have a much-increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and tend to have close relatives with cancer across multiple generations.” Women who have had breast cancer once are also at a higher risk of developing it again.

As much as a family history increases your risk, it’s not a surefire indicator. “Not having a family history doesn’t let you off the hook,” says Port. “Ninety percent of women diagnosed have no family history.” Other risk factors include an early first period or late menopause, never having given birth or late child-bearing, prior radiation to the breast, and a history of abnormal breast biopsies.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.