Women's Health Base

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Posts Tagged ‘breast cancer’

Breast cancer screening hit by recession

Posted by hannahflynn on April 29, 2009

Women in Ireland are missing out on their breast screening, as a recruitment freeze in the public sector has affected the appointment of radiographers.

Following the Irish budget, the appointment of any new radiographers has been suspended. Plans for the national breast cancer screening service , BreastCheck in Clare, Donegal and Leitrim have been affected.

Last year, it was claimed, money was withdrawn from Donegal’s screening programme because BreastCheck was due to be rolled out this year. A similar situation is occurring in Belfast.

A spokesperson has said interviews and checks for prospective radiographers has been carried out but they are unable to employ them.

Pressure groups are claiming to lose the service will be political suicide for any government.

It will be interesting to see if the £2 billion cut in secondary health care over the next 5 years in the NHS will affect screening here. It expects to make £500 million of those cuts by getting patients out of hospital more quickly, or not inviting them for screening at all perhaps?


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Don’t get hormonal

Posted by hannahflynn on January 15, 2009

Oestrogen will shrink your brain (if you are old) and then make you unfaithful (if you are young) according to papers out this week.

The third most popular story on New Scientist today is about a piece of research showing young women with naturally high levels of oestrogen are more likely to man-hop and will consider themselves more attractive, than their peers.

The researchers also asked the students, who averaged 19 years and five months, to rate their own attractiveness and fill out a survey that gauged their propensity to cheat on a partner by flirting, kissing, dating, having sex, or maintaining a serious affair.”

Apparently losing weight, exercising and aging all contribute to a drop in levels of oestradiol (a precursor to oestrogen). Though bafflingly researcher Kristina Durrent uses Angelina Jolie as an example of a women exhibiting the type of behaviour that has evolved in women with high oestradiol, though as far as I can see she was not in the trail.  

Perhaps it was to do with her shrunken brain, though according to researchers this only happens to women who have taken HRT.

Elderly women given HRT were found to have  a slight drop in the size of two brain areas important in memory, compared to women on a placebo. (See http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/whi/)

However there is conflicting evidence as another study found no difference between women on HRT and women on a placebo.

It will be interesting to see how these findings shape public attitudes to them as studies in 2002 and 2004 were haltedafter links were found between HRT, heart attacks, strokes and breast cancer.

The authors then recommend doctors reconsider prescribing combined oestrogen and progestin treatment for long term use.

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Tamoxifen: Wonder Drug if Taken Properly

Posted by hannahflynn on November 16, 2008

Cardiff’s own have managed to reveal the genetic cause of tamoxifen resistance in women, using a rare cell-line produced by the University. They have also clarified the mechanism by which the cancer-drug works.

While tamoxifen has been understood to be an oestrogen blocker for a number of years, the work done by the team at the Welsh School of Pharmacy showed which genes tamoxifen affects. It was found that ErbB2 must be ‘switched-off’ by tamoxifen in order to prevent recurrence of breast cancer, using a control switch “in the background of the genome“. This is held in position by signalling molecule Pax2. Results have been published in Nature.

The results have come not long after the revelation that many breast cancer patients are not taking tamoxifen properly or even completing the course, significantly increasing the risk of recurrence. Reasons cited include the suggestion that patients put less emphasis on taking a tablet than they would on chemotherapy. Published in the British Journal of Cancer  the paper has received surprisingly little press attention with only B2Bs like Nursing Times and Healthcare Republic giving it any space.  

Interestingly, The Western Mail not too long ago speculated that at-risk women may be given tamoxifen as a preventative measure. Trials are still ongoing, alongside another trial by IBIS who are looking at ways to prevent breast cancer.

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