Day 16: Chemistry. “There was more news from the chemistry of Susan’s cancer.” I learn that there are chemical markers that are indicators of the likelihood of the cancer recurrence or spread. One marker is if the cancer is estrogen receptor positive or negative. If it is “positive” then there are drugs like Tomaxifin that can suppress the cancers recurrence or spread. There is also a protein marker known as HER2/neu, which if present means drugs can be used to suppress the cancer. In each case all of Susan’s markers were negative. In 2000 they did not use the term, but today it is called “triple negative.” That is the three different chemical markers which would, if positive, suggest the cancer, even though it has traveled through the lymph nodes, could be suppressed were negative. Susan was triple negative. The news though didn’t surprise me. I had come to expect it. “I already figured out what the ballroom meant. It was waiting for Susan and me to walk out onto the dance floor.” The sense of inevitability just grew.
Stat of the Day: Together, BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations account for about 20 to 25 percent of hereditary breast cancers (1) and about 5 to 10 percent of all breast cancers (2). BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.
Task of the Day: Talk to a genetic counselor if you have breast cancer in your family, especially if you are Jewish from an Ashkenazi background. A reminder from an earlier task to create a medical history of your family, not just you but for as many generations back as you can find accurate information. Most hospitals have resources. You can also find an independent genetic counselor through this web site.
Resource of the Day: Check out Know:BRCA, a tool, created to help patients and clinicians learn more about BRCA gene mutations. It is an efficient way to gather detailed family cancer information and identify women with increased risk for a BRCA mutation using an evidence based algorithm. The tool is HIPPA compliant, and results can be downloaded directly into electronic medical records. Know: BRCA also provides clinical guidance for care providers and support resources for patients. There is also a great phone APP that has reminders and information produced by “Every Woman Counts” a program of the California Department of Health Care Services.
The Actual Dance: Performances. Donate.