More than 30,000 people gathered for the 16th annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Saturday morning, turning downtown St. Louis into a sea of pink balloons and tutus.
Over the past 16 years, Susan G. Komen St. Louis has raised $29 million for breast cancer research and treatment. But attendance at the annual race has been on the decline. There were 10,000 fewer participants at this year’s race compared to 2013.
Dr. Bradley Schlaggar and his colleagues at the Washington University School of Medicine used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to visualize "chemobrain," a phenomenon that many patients receiving chemotherapy describe as a "mental fog."
Most people have heard about the undesirable side effects that chemotherapy has on the body of people suffering from cancer. There's balding, fatigue and loss of appetite, to name a few.
Until recently, however, chemotherapy’s effects on the brain weren’t widely recognized. The cognitive side effects – a fuzzy memory and poor attention span – were usually dismissed by physicians, scientists and even some cancer patients.
The symptoms have a name: Post-chemotherapy cognitive impairment, or “chemobrain,” among those who suffer from it.
The day Sha Fields was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, her fiancé came along to offer moral support, and he has been by her side since then. She says she used to wonder how to repay his years of unconditional support. The chance came last year, when the husband, Cliff, was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The Siteman Center for Advanced Medicine at Washington University had no data on how unusual it is for a husband and wife to have cancer, but Sha says she is hearing that the experience is becoming more common.
When Sally O'Neill's doctor told her she had an early form of cancer in one of her breasts, she didn't agonize about what she wanted to.
The 42-year-old mother of two young girls wanted a double mastectomy.
"I decided at that moment that I wanted them both taken off," says O'Neill, who lives in a suburb of Boston. "There wasn't a real lot of thought process to it. I always thought, 'If this happens to me, this is what I'm going to do.' Because I'm not taking any chances. I want the best possible outcome. I don't want to do a wait-and-see."
The findings of new breast cancer research from Washington University could result in effective treatment for 4,000 additional patients in the United States each year. Scientists made the discovery after analyzing DNA sequencing data from 1,500 patients.
The research appears in the latest edition of Cancer Discovery.
Researchers at Washington University used new technology to unravel the entire genetic helix for a subset of breast cancer, called basal-like, and found that it is more like ovarian cancer than other types of breast cancer.
The study’s co-Leader, Mathew Ellis, said that means techniques used to tackle ovarian cancer could be more effective than traditional methods for basal-like breast cancer.
“The more we understand about an individual breast cancer the more we can actually treat the patient accurately,” Ellis said. “I like to call this genome forward medicine.”