Breast cancer patients who have additional tissue removed during a partial mastectomy are half as likely to need a second surgery, according to a Yale Cancer Center study released today. The study could have a major impact on thousands of patients, sparing them a second operation, according to researchers. “No one likes going back to the operating room, especially not the patients who face the emotional burden of another surgery,” said Dr. Anees Chagpar, the study’s lead author, associate professor of surgery at Yale School of Medicine and director of The Breast Center, Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven. Nearly 300,000 women nationwide are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Most of them have early stages of the disease, and more than half of those undergo partial mastectomies to remove the cancer, Chagpar said.
Yale cancer scientist Melinda Irwin says that the connection between obesity and cancer are so strong — as are recent findings about the effectiveness of exercise and diet in treating cancer — that pharmaceutical companies should be required to include these two lifestyle components in drug trials. A mandate is needed, Irwin said, because the pharmaceutical industry, which funds most large-scale drug trials, “has no incentive to fund lifestyle behavioral interventions. Why would they? There’s no pill to take.”
Irwin studies the effects of weight loss and exercise on breast cancer survivors. Her comments echo those by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, which has issued a new position paper calling obesity “a major unrecognized risk factor for cancer.’’
“As many as 84,000 cancer diagnoses each year are attributed to obesity, and overweight and obesity are implicated in 15 percent to 20 percent of total cancer-related mortality,” the group says in its position paper published in the online version of the Journal of Clinical Oncology Oct.
Connecticut’s share of funding from the National Cancer Institute has dropped 19 percent since 2010 – a steeper decline than many other states, an analysis of National Institutes of Health (NIH) data show. Federal cancer institute funding to Connecticut fell to $33.4 million in 2014 – down from $41.1 million in 2010. The biggest grantee, Yale University, is receiving $7 million less from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), one of the NIH’s most prominent centers. Overall, NIH research grants to Connecticut fell to $461.3 million – down from $484.4 million in 2010, NIH reports show. Most of that decline was in research awards to Yale, which dropped $25 million.