Avastin, the FDA and Breast Cancer Patient Survival

The impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will be front and center later this week when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decides whether to revoke marketing clearance of the cancer drug Avastin for breast malignancies.

On one side, you have critics of the FDA accusing them of rationing healthcare while on the other side, you have comparative effectiveness research showing that there’s no statistically meaningful difference in the survival of patients receiving Avastin plus chemotherapy compared to chemotherapy alone.

Avastin

Cancer Research Blog Carnival #38 – Breast Cancer

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Welcome to the 38th edition of the Cancer Research Blog Carnival, the monthly blog carnival that discusses what’s new in cancer research. In recognition of October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this edition’s focus is on breast cancer.

There’s a revolution occurring on the Web: those “authoritative” articles written on traditional, static websites are being replaced with blogs, wikis and online social networks. In the sphere of health, medicine and information technology, this “real-time Web” consists of many who are professionals in the field; their posts are listed below.
In the digital age, these are the characteristics of new media: recent, relevant, reachable and reliable.
October is all about pink

Breast Cancer Awareness Month — also referred to as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) — is an annual international health campaign organized by major breast cancer charities every October to increase awareness of the disease and raise funds for research into its cause, prevention and cure. The campaign also offers information and support to those affected by breast cancer.

In 2010, the American Cancer Society estimates that 207,090 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, approximately 54,010 women will be diagnosed with carcinoma in situ (CIS; the earliest non-invasive form of breast cancer), and approximately 39,840 women will die from breast cancer [1]. Indeed, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, following lung cancer.

Self breast exam

In 1975, a woman had a 1 in 11 chance of developing invasive breast cancer some time in her life — today, the chance is even greater at 1 in 8. Although the risk has increased, deaths due to breast cancer have been declining: from 1990 — 2006, death rates decreased by 3.2% per year among women younger than 50, and by 2.0% per year among women 50 and older [2]. This decline in breast cancer mortality has been attributed to improvements in breast cancer treatment and early detection [3].

Animal research has contributed significantly to advances in breast cancer treatment. Animal studies were essential for the development of two front-line drugs that shrink breast cancer tumors, Herceptin and Tamoxifen. Since their mechanisms of action are different, they are used to treat different types of tumors. The drug Tamoxifen blocks tumor growth by blocking the action of estrogen, a hormone involved in the growth of most breast cancers. Tamoxifen binds to the estrogen receptor and blocks estrogen from docking to it. The drug Herceptin binds to another growth-regulating receptor protein called HER2, blocking it’s action and shrinking the tumor. Indeed, there is great value in animal research for the development of treatments to fight breast cancer.

Let’s find out what’s happening this month with breast cancer research.