Thursday, June 7, 2012

Blood tests and brain tumors

This is a good news/bad news kind of post. No, not about me - I'm fine, well as fine as I ever am these days. But two bits of news to think on this morning.

Sheryl Crowe has a benign brain tumor. We knew that unless you have been living under a rock. (She's a celebrity so of course it is more important than anything about the European economic crisis or the slaughter in Syria. Nothing against Sheryl but the media gets its hype all wrong.) Its been all over the news. Its stable, it does not require surgery, its not that uncommon. But what is the bad news is that if you had breast cancer, the ER/PR positive type, your risk for a brain tumor is increased.

"But Crow’s meningioma isn’t due to breast cancer cells spreading to her brain. Rather, it may be driven by the same reproductive hormones that also played a role in her breast cancer.

A quick literature search revealed more than 350 studies examining the connection between meningiomas and breast cancer. One published in the journal Surgical Oncology found that both meningiomas and the most common form of breast cancer are associated with an increase in estrogen and progesterone receptors on cells. They’re also both likely to strike women in their 50’s and 60’s. Crow is 50.

Other research has shown that women with meningiomas are 40 percent more likely to have breast cancer than those without and are 50 percent more likely to have endometriosis where the uterine lining grows outside the uterus causing pelvic pain."

So that puts all of us ER/PR breast cancer women in the increased risk of a brain tumor. Gee, thanks. Cancer, the gift that keeps on giving.

But on to a more positive note, there is a new blood test being studied (because we needed another study you might recall) that may help determine which women are more likely to have their early stage breast cancer recur. Blood tests done before surgery are done to look for circulating tumor cells in the sample. If you have more circulating tumor cells (or CTCs for short), you are more likely to have a recurrence. And maybe if you don't have any CTCs, you don't need chemo. I would have liked that test and maybe been able to skip chemo and all its lovely side effects.

I will put this one in the good news category and even dare to call it progress, even though it still needs more research - like everything else.

1 comment:

Dr Fredda Branyon said...

Stay strong and keep sharing your thoughts. I pray for your continuous healing. I know that it's going to be very hard at first but I know you'll be okay soon. Keep safe.