Saturday, July 11, 2015

Around the Web: Sore & Bruised Edition

I'm pretty sure I gave myself whiplash last weekend when I tripped on the laces of my sandals during an aggressive game of duck-duck-goose. One minute I was the "goose" chasing Quinn, the next I was smacking the cement with such force and velocity that my sunglasses went flying, I scraped most the skin off my right elbow, and all of my pride went floating away like a lost balloon.

Remember? I told you I'm a bit of a klutz.

I woke up on Monday with a headache and a sore neck, both of which have gotten better as the week goes on. My elbow too. That hasn't stopped me from wondering if I have brain mets due to the headaches or bone mets due to how sore my elbow is. 

Hey, I never said cancer made me more rational. 

Speaking of sore, I've started a new exercise routine, although calling it a routine is a bit of a stretch since I've only gone four times in two weeks. I'm started doing Pilates with a couple of girlfriends after one of them roped the other two of us in like cattle about to be slaughtered.

My texts with my other new-to-Pilates friend have gone a bit like this over the last 24 hours: 

Me: My calves are burning!!!!

My friend: I mean, my calves hurt so bad that if I stay stagnant for too long, the second I get up, I almost crumble.

Me: Every time I go to stand up, my legs seize up. I might sleep on the couch just so I don’t have to move again.

My friend: OMG...I know. I just walked from the couch to the desk (and you know how short of a distance that is) and about fell over.

Here's the deal, though. I figure if I exercise enough that I'm always sore somewhere, it somehow makes the pain less likely to be from cancer. Or takes my mind off of cancer (a little, anyway).

And speaking of cancer, here's why you're here, the things I saw in the world of research around the web this week.


Do Patient Navigators Actually Help?

What do you think? Have you used services like this? Would you? I haven't, but then I kind of have because I have my husband Chris, who is basically my extra set of eyes and ears and most definitely my extra memory. 

Also, this: 

"In the end, many say, debating patient navigation may be asking the wrong question. Why not, they wonder, spend the money and energy needed to overhaul the entire cancer-treatment system?

“One question worth asking is why do [patient navigators] exist,” Ramsey said. “And the reason is the cancer community has done a very poor job of helping patients through the system. The fact that navigation exists is kind of an indictment of the cancer-care system.”'

Why BRCA Genes Eventually Resist Cancer Treatment

"Now, scientists at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, CT, have pinpointed a key molecule called co-factor DSS1 that helps the BRCA2 gene to repair DNA.

They note how "DSS1 acts as a DNA mimic," and without it, BRCA2 mutations cannot do their job of repairing DNA - which is key to the survival of cancer cells.

The team says the findings point to a possible way to decrease drug resistance in cancers involving BRCA genes.

Senior author Patrick Sung, a professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry, suggests drugs that interfere with DSS1 function could be developed and used with existing drugs to overcome this resistance."

A Clue About Why Brain Metastases Occur, And One Possibility for Stopping Them

This is at a way early stage (mouse models), but looks promising. 

"Removing a single protein from the blood could stop breast cancer spreading to other part of the body, scientists have discovered.

They identified a key molecule, which triggers the growth of blood vessels in tumours that have spread to the brain - a common secondary site for breast cancer to spread.

By withholding the protein, called DOCK4, a particular part of the blood vessel did not form as quickly, meaning tumours grew at a slower rate, scientists found.

Dr Georgia Mavria, from the University of Leeds, said the discovery could help develop new drugs and identify people at risk of their breast cancer spreading."

How Many Studies Like This Do We Need?

"The increased use of mammograms to screen for breast cancer has subjected more women to invasive medical treatments but has not saved lives, a new study says.

After reviewing cancer registry records from 547 counties across the United States, researchers concluded that the screening tests aren’t working as hoped. Instead of preventing deaths by uncovering breast tumors at an early, more curable stage, screening mammograms have mainly found small tumors that would have been harmless if left alone."

It's also very much worth reading this piece by the always-insightful Elaine Schattner, who writes, in part: 

"But mainly I’m concerned about the author’s definition of overdiagnosis, and their conclusion. In the paper’s second paragraph they write: “However, there are increasing concerns that screening unintentionally leads to overdiagnosis by identifying small, indolent, or regressive breast tumors that would not otherwise become clinically apparent.”

Yes, there are fast and slow breast tumors; pathology varies. As I will discuss in a post forthcoming, knowing the details of breast cancer should enable women and their doctors to avoid overtreatment, which is a real phenomenon and can be separated from overdiagnosis.

But regressive breast cancers?"


Adding Progesterone to "Double Positive" Patients' Protocols Could Increase Survival

"It turns out that when progesterone sticks to the progesterone receptor in cancer cells, it alters how the oestrogen receptor works, and effectively puts a second brake on tumour growth. Tests showed that mice given progesterone and tamoxifen had breast tumours only half the size of those given the drug on its own.

“Crucially, it provides a strong case for a clinical trial to investigate the potential benefit of adding progesterone to drugs that target the oestrogen receptor, which could improve treatment for the majority of hormone-driven breast cancers,” Carroll added. Details of the study are reported in Nature."


  1. I had one of the world's more incompetent nurse navigators, who kept telling me that my treatment would be different from what the doctors and was saying. It made me nuts. I didn't think educating her was supposed to be part of my job as patient.
    So, while I find that the medical-industrial complex overcomplicated, incompetent, and a nightmare, I have decided that I'll do the patient advocatecy for us.
    When my husband went into treatment for esophageal cancer (a year after I finished my treatment), they made his chemo appointments wrong, and told us to just show up and someone would take care of us. We did, and they were going to give him his chemo at 6PM (same time as his radiation). I insisted on seeing the onc, and patiently listened to his condescending explanation of why I shouldn't worry. Then I explained to him that this would be fine for any appointment EXCEPT the first one, which would fail to meet the university's definition of adequate treatment, and he looked at the nurse navigator, and said, she's right. And I was.
    So, patient advocators and navigators aren't worth much either

  2. I am the world's biggest klutz. I feel you on the tripping. I hope your ouchies heal and your ego also heals.