On the pulse – 26th July 2012

Cancerkin’s News Update…

Cancerkin and Hackney Chinese Community Services

As part of our ongoing awareness work in East London, the Cancerkin Team was at the Hackney Chinese Community Services centre last week to speak about being breast aware. They delivered their message in Cantonese to a group of 14 women, providing translated breast awareness leaflets in order to overcome any language barriers. The team will return this week to give another presentation to a Mandarin speaking group. We thank the centre for welcoming and supporting the team!

Last chance for early booking discount…

We are offering a special discounted rate to supporters booking before 31st July for Cancerkin’s performance of the Judas Kiss on Wednesday 10 October 2012. Tickets are usually £50 but we are offering a special rate of £45. So book now to secure your discount! Please visit our website to download a reservation form or contact Laura on l.smith@cancerkin.org.uk.   

Working at Cancerkin…

We are currently recruiting for the exciting role of Events and Development Manager. If you or someone you know has an interest in events management and fundraising, and is interested in applying, please visit our website to find out more.

In the news…

Obesity and breast cancer treatment

Scientists at Breakthrough Breast Cancer have found that, after receiving treatment with hormone-suppressing drugs called aromatase inhibitors, women with breast cancer who are obese have higher levels of oestrogen that those of a normal weight. Over three quarters of breast cancers need the hormone oestrogen to grow and so one of the main ways to treat the disease is by blocking the production or activity of the hormone. Obese women have higher levels of the hormone than healthy-weight women and the study, published last week in the Journal of Medical Oncology, found that while the drugs markedly reduced levels of oestrogen in obese women, levels remained more than double those in women of a healthy weight. This suggests that obese and overweight women could benefit from changes to their treatment.

Researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden examined two aromatase inhibitors.  Another recent study has indicated that aromatase inhibitors are no more effective that tamoxifen in women with a higher BMI and so scientists wanted to investigate this possibility further.  They examined 54 postmenopausal women who received three months of the drug anastrozole and three months of the more potent drug letrozole, or the drugs in the opposite order. Data on BMI and oestrogen levels was available for 44 women. Results showed that, prior to treatments, women with a BMI between 30 and 35 had three times more plasma oestrogen than those with a BMI under 25. After treatment with letrozole, women with a higher BMI still had levels of plasma oestrogen nearly three times as high as those with a normal BMI. Anastrozole produced the same trend but results were not of statistical significance.

Senior author Professor Mitch Dowsett said: “We found that women with higher BMIs had more oestrogen remaining in their blood after treatment than healthy-weight women, which is consistent with previous suggestions that aromatase inhibitors might be slightly less effective in these women. Our findings are based on laboratory studies, so we would need to carry out clinical trials to tell us whether women with a higher BMI would benefit from changes to their treatment. Women with higher BMIs should certainly not be alarmed by this finding or stop taking their treatment. Our study takes us a step closer to understanding which of the treatment options available might be the most suitable for individual women.”

To read more, please visit Breakthrough Breast Cancer’s website.

Laura Smith

On the pulse – 19th July 2012

Cancerkin’s News Update…

Tickets to the theatre…

Tickets are selling quickly for the Judas Kiss on Wednesday 10 October 2012 but there are still seats left if you have not yet sent in your reservation form. You can also still take advantage of our early booking discount.  Tickets are usually £50 but we are offering a special rate of £45 when purchasing before 31st July 2012.

If you have not yet received an invitation and reservation form in the post, please visit our website to download a form or contact Laura on l.smith@cancerkin.org.uk.    

In the news…

New study into breast conserving surgery

Of the 45,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year, 58 per cent will chose to have breast conserving surgery rather than a mastectomy. This involves having part of the breast, rather than the entire breast, removed.  Results show that, when combined with radiotherapy, breast conserving surgery has similar survival rates to those achieved by treatment through a mastectomy alone. However, as it can be difficult to fully define certain tumours with current imaging techniques, this kind of surgery can result in not all cancer cells being removed and therefore a second operation.

The results of a new study recently published in the British Medical Journal show that one in five women with primary breast cancer who chose breast conserving surgery will go on to have a second operation. Examining data of 55,297 breast cancer patients who had the surgery at 156 NHS trusts in England between April 2005 and March 2008, researchers found that 11,032 needed a second breast operation within three months. Roughly 40 per cent underwent a mastectomy during reoperation. Of those who needed a second operation and elected to have breast conserving surgery again, one in seven required a further operation.

Commenting on the study, Cancer Research UK Breast Cancer Surgeon, Mr Ramsey Cutress, said: “This is a very interesting and important study on a large group of UK women, and previous studies, in the UK and elsewhere, have shown similar results. It is standard practice to discuss the possibility of further surgery and it’s important for patients to fully understand the pros and cons of this. Rates of breast cancer recurrence are also reduced by other treatments such as radiotherapy, hormone therapy and chemotherapy where appropriate. There’s an ongoing need to better identify those at high risk of breast cancer recurrence, and to carefully select those who would benefit the most from further surgery.”

To read more, please click here.

Genetic ‘post-it note’ could reveal risk of breast cancer spread

Cancer Research UK researchers at Imperial College London have discovered a molecular ‘post-it note’ on a breast cancer gene that could signal that the disease will spread. Their findings were published last week in the British Journal of Cancer. Scientists found that high levels of a molecular modification known as methylation on a gene called CACNA2D3 were linked to the spread of breast cancer in patients.

The common cell process of methylation involves methyl groups being added onto DNA to prevent the gene’s instructions from being given. For this reason, scientists have likened the process to a DNA ‘post-it note’ that tells cells when to switch genes off. CACNA2D3 is a know tumour suppressor gene. It is not methylated in normal breast cells but is highly methylated in breast cancer cells. Researchers found that when methyl groups were added to the gene during methylation, it no longer protected against cancer growth. A missing or faulty CACNA2D3 gene has previously been linked to lung, renal, neuroblastoma and osteosarcoma cancer but this is the first time it has been linked to breast cancer.

Lead author, Dr Carlo Palmieri, said: “Our research suggests that methyl groups can muffle the messages given by the CACNA2D3 gene – blocking its potential protective effect against breast cancer. Methylation of the gene could be used to flag up breast cancer patients who have a greater chance of the disease spreading – helping doctors decide what treatment plan would be most effective. The next stage is to repeat these findings in larger studies with patients to confirm whether analysing methylation of the gene could be a useful test.”

To read more, please click here.

Laura Smith

Big Lottery Funding to help women with breast cancer in East London

There will be more support for women (and men) with breast cancer who live in East London and more information about breast cancer to tackle fears and encourage early presentation of symptoms thanks to funding from The Big Lottery Fund, which has today been awarded to breast cancer charity Cancerkin.

One year-breast cancer mortality rates in East London are amongst the highest in the UK. But breast awareness promotion in East London is currently patchy as is support  for breast cancer patients in the area.

Supported by the Big Lottery Fund, Cancerkin is working on the ground to change this situation by: running free complementary therapy sessions for breast cancer patients at East London venues; training local ‘Experienced Patients’ who have survived breast cancer and now support others; holding breast awareness events throughout the area; and training local students as awareness ambassadors to promote being breast aware within their own communities.

The NHS recognises that complementary therapies can help women cope better with living with cancer by enhancing their health and well-being and can alleviate many of the side effects of cancer and its treatment, including stress. Cancerkin has 25 years experience of providing complementary therapies, support from Experienced Patients and Patient Support Group with consistent positive feedback from patients about how the support has enhanced their well being and enabled them to cope better with their cancer.

Cancerkin Chief Executive, Victoria Todd: We are very grateful to The Big Lottery fund for their generous grant of £125,525 over 3 years for our work in East London. The need is great and we look forward to continuing our work with our partners in East London, as well as with the Big Lottery.