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NEWS
December 21, 1995 | By Marie McCullough, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER This article includes information from the Associated Press
Two separate scientific groups say they have discovered a second major breast cancer susceptibility gene. In today's issue of the journal Nature, an international team of scientists reports it has isolated a large part of the gene, called BRCA2. And in Salt Lake City, Myriad Genetics Inc., a genetic testing company, says it has identified the entire gene in collaboration with researchers at the University of Utah and the University of Pennsylvania. "Myriad scientists have cloned . . . the complete sequence of this gene," the company said in a statement, adding that it would publish the sequence on an Internet database today.
NEWS
November 7, 1996 | By Marie McCullough, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have found that hereditary ovarian cancers tend to be less aggressive than nonhereditary cancers. In a small study, published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers found that women with advanced-stage ovarian cancers caused by inherited abnormalities in the BRCA1 gene lived twice as long as women with advanced cancers that were not hereditary. Of 43 women with hereditary ovarian cancers, half were still alive after nearly 6 1/2 years.
NEWS
September 1, 1999 | By Marie McCullough, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Women at risk of developing hereditary ovarian and breast cancers can reduce their risk of both diseases by having their ovaries surgically removed, according to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center. The radical surgery throws a woman into premature menopause by eliminating the organ that produces estrogen, the female sex hormone. But since there are no early detection tests for ovarian cancer, surgery is often advised for women likely to develop it. The new study, published in today's Journal of the National Cancer Institute, demonstrates that removal of the ovaries also dramatically reduces breast-cancer risk for women carrying mutated BRCA1 genes, which cause inherited forms of ovarian and breast cancer.
NEWS
September 1, 1995 | By Faye Flam, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have uncovered a clue that may explain why women who have children in their teens or early 20s enjoy a much lower incidence of breast cancer. Experimenting in mice, endocrinologist Lewis Chodosh of Penn found that an early pregnancy activates a gene called BRCA1, the so-called breast cancer gene. Researchers believe that in women, activating BRCA1 has a protective effect against breast cancer. In the mice, Chodosh found that the BRCA1 activity remained long after the pregnancy was over.
LIVING
December 11, 1995 | By Marie McCullough, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Across the country, women and their physicians are inquiring about something that was hard to imagine only a year ago - a genetic test for susceptibility to breast and ovarian cancer. "I get calls every day from oncologists who say, 'My patients are asking me about this testing, and I'm not up on this,' " said Lynn Godmilow, a genetic counselor at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center. Experts estimate that so far 1,000 people have had the test - a blood analysis that checks for mutations in the susceptibility gene, BRCA1, isolated 15 months ago. BRCA1 mutations - passed on by a mother or father - are believed to cause about 5 percent of the 182,000 breast cancers and 11 percent of the 21,000 ovarian cancers diagnosed annually.
NEWS
May 15, 1997 | By Marie McCullough, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Only 7 percent of women with hereditary breast cancer are likely to have a defective BRCA1 gene, making the so-called breast cancer gene far less prevalent than scientists originally estimated, according to University of Pennsylvania researchers. However, the researchers also found that the likelihood of a BRCA1 mutation is extremely high in families with histories of both breast and ovarian cancer - especially Ashkenazi Jewish families, a high-risk group. The new study, published in this week's New England Journal of Medicine, is renewing debate over the value of widespread testing for breast cancer gene mutations.
NEWS
July 12, 2006 | By Marie McCullough INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
When genetic testing confirmed Brenda McCormick had inherited a BRCA1 mutation that virtually guaranteed ovarian cancer, she took her doctors' advice and had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. Never mind that medical tests showed no signs of cancer, or that the surgery would plunge her into menopause at the age of 42. The disease had ravaged two of her sisters, killing one, and the Newtown graphic artist knew the surgery was her best hope. New research by Fox Chase and 31 other medical centers around the world confirms that this preventive surgery should be recommended to all women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations, which cause 5 percent to 10 percent of all breast and ovarian cancers.
NEWS
September 21, 1994 | By Fawn Vrazo and Susan FitzGerald, INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS
Breast cancer runs through Margaret Richards' family like an ugly black thread through a tapestry. First it was an aunt, Katherine, dead of breast cancer at age 42. Then it was one of Richards' seven sisters, Pat, found to have a massive tumor in her left breast in 1975. She was dead in three months, at age 32. Then the disease struck Alexis, diagnosed in 1983 with an advanced tumor in her early 40s, still alive today. Then it hit yet another sister, Shirley. Her early-stage breast cancer was found in 1984 at age 39. She had both breasts removed.
NEWS
June 21, 2010 | By Faye Flam, Inquirer Staff Writer
In 1998, Penn geneticists Arupa Ganguly and Haig Kazazian were ordered to stop offering women a test for genetic mutations that carry a dire risk of breast cancer. Myriad Genetics Inc. accused the researchers of patent infringement and threatened them with a lawsuit. They weren't even using a test patented by Myriad. Ganguly had pioneered a new way to read these genes and devised her own test. But Myriad held a patent on the genes themselves. Now both University of Pennsylvania scientists have been pulled into a lawsuit that could not only strip Myriad of its patents but end the 30-year-old practice of patenting human genes.
NEWS
January 14, 2009 | By Marie McCullough, Inquirer Staff Writer
Of all the devil-and-the-deep-blue-sea dilemmas in modern medicine, the one faced by women with defective BRCA genes is especially awful. They can reduce their high risk of both breast and ovarian cancer by having their ovaries removed at a young age, but this drastic measure permanently compromises their health and ends their fertility. For women grappling with the trade-offs, a new statistical analysis by University of Pennsylvania researchers provides the best estimate to date of the value of surgery: It cuts breast cancer risk by half, and ovarian cancer risk by 80 percent, presumably by reducing exposure to the female hormone estrogen.
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ARTICLES BY DATE
NEWS
June 23, 2014 | By Rachel Zamzow, Inquirer Staff Writer
Facing a double mastectomy and hysterectomy, Eva Moon eased the anxiety with a limerick: I've just had a genetic test And I'm feeling a little depressed It's not just because I'll have menopause But I wasn't quite done with my breasts Humor isn't touted much in clinical trials or in FDA approvals, but when it comes to cancer, laughter is good medicine, according to Moon. A 58-year-old performing artist from Redmond, Wash., with fiery red hair and a sultry voice, Moon spoke at the Eighth Annual Joining FORCEs Conference in Philadelphia last week.
NEWS
December 16, 2013 | By Tom Avril, Inquirer Staff Writer
Your mother or sister has just told you she tested positive for a mutation in one of her BRCA genes, meaning her risk of getting breast or ovarian cancer is much higher than normal. And there is a 50 percent chance you have the same mutation. Do you get yourself tested? All too often, the answer is no, according to a new study by researchers at Fox Chase Cancer Center. The authors interviewed 438 close relatives of 253 women who had shared results of their tests for cancer-causing mutations in the genes, called BRCA1 and BRCA2.
NEWS
May 28, 2013 | Associated Press
ESCONDIDO, Calif. - Less than two weeks after Angelina Jolie revealed she'd had a double mastectomy to avoid breast cancer, her aunt died from the disease Sunday. Debbie Martin died at age 61 at a hospital in Escondido, Calif., near San Diego, her husband, Ron Martin, told The Associated Press. Debbie Martin was the younger sister of Jolie's mother, Marcheline Bertrand, whose own death from ovarian cancer in 2007 inspired the surgery that Jolie described in a May 14 op-ed in the New York Times.
BUSINESS
April 15, 2013 | By David Sell, Inquirer Staff Writer
As legal questions go, it is very succinct: Can human genes be patented? To the uninitiated, and at least two judges, it might seem obvious - or absurd. How can you get a patent for human genes? Aren't genes part of the human body, part of nature? Can you get a patent for a human leg or kidney, or the sun or the moon? The U.S. Supreme Court will wrestle with the question of whether human genes are patentable during oral arguments Monday in a case that could have huge implications for people needing cancer testing, scientific researchers, and pharmaceutical organizations, but also agricultural producers, other industries, and, perhaps, individual liberty.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 18, 2012 | By Marie McCullough, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
About three years ago, Fox News correspondent Jennifer Griffin felt an orange-sized lump in her breast while weaning her third child. She figured she had a blocked milk duct or maybe an infection. She never dreamed it could be breast cancer. But she soon discovered that the conventional wisdom about the disease - who gets it, when, and why - does not apply to the aggressive subtype known as "triple negative. " "I thought when you were pregnant and nursing you were protected," recalled Griffin, 43, who blogged about her battle against triple negative cancer at jengriffinblog.blogspot.com.
NEWS
October 16, 2012
From today through Oct. 17, Philly.com and The Inquirer will mark breast cancer awareness month by publishing a profile a day of transformative moments reported by patients. The series culminates in a special Philly.com/health Inquirer section on Oct. 18, and can be viewed at www.philly.com/breastcancer . "My little Sister, Debbi, was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer when she was 29 years old and pregnant," said Traci Walters of Texas. "They induced labor about a month early because the tumor was growing so fast because she was pregnant.
BUSINESS
May 10, 2012 | By Harold Brubaker, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
The University of Pennsylvania has received a gift of $25 million to start a research center focused on the treatment and prevention of cancers linked to certain hereditary gene mutations, the Philadelphia institution said Tuesday. The donors behind the Basser Research Center are Jon and Mindy Gray, 1992 Penn graduates. Jon Gray, 42, is global head of real estate and a member of the board at New York investment and advisory firm Blackstone Group The center, to be housed at Penn's Abramson Cancer Center in University City, is named in honor of Mindy Gray's sister, Faith Basser, who died at 44 of ovarian cancer caused by a gene mutation.
NEWS
November 14, 2011 | By Mitchell Hecht, For The Inquirer
Question: Do you think "prophylactic" mastectomy is rather extreme? Answer: Removal of healthy breast tissue as a prophylactic (preventive) effort to prevent breast cancer from occurring or reoccurring is a controversial but deeply personal decision. There are several varied situations where prophylactic mastectomies are performed: (1) Previous breast cancer in one breast; (2) Strong family history of breast cancer; (3) Presence of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation for breast cancer; (4)
NEWS
October 3, 2011 | By Rita Rubin, FOR THE INQUIRER
They call themselves "previvors. " Genetic testing revealed they had a high lifetime risk of breast cancer as well as ovarian cancer. Their genetic predisposition sets them apart from other healthy women and from genetically predisposed women who've already been diagnosed with cancer. For some previvors, such as Sandy Cohen of Lafayette Hill, breast cancer had cut a swath through their families. They grew up thinking it was only a matter of time until they, too, followed their mothers and grandmothers into the oncologist's office.
NEWS
June 6, 2011
Biophosphonate found to cut recurrence of breast cancer Women with early-stage breast cancer who added a bone-strengthening "bisphosphonate" drug to standard treatment reduced their risk of recurrence by about a third, according to a large study by Austrian researchers. Because bone marrow provides a fertile ground for cancer cells released by the breast tumor, a bisphosphonate called zoledronic acid is routinely given to women with late-stage cancer that has spread, or metastasized.
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