Improving quality of life, management of breast cancer care

Throughout their journey, breast cancer patients and survivors may face a number of challenges as they steward through diagnosis, treatment and prevention of recurrence.

Dr. Sedgwick and Dr. SepulvedaIn addition to finding new approaches to treatment through basic, translational and clinical research, physicians in the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center at Baylor College of Medicine are looking at better ways to meet these challenges by improving the quality of life and management of care of breast cancer patients and survivors.

Baylor College of Medicine recently announced two new clinical trials aimed at doing just that.

New clinical trials

One of the most grueling side effects of chemotherapy is hair loss. What if there was a way to prevent hair loss, while still undergoing life-saving treatment to shrink breast cancer tumors?

In one new trial, Dr. Julie Nangia is testing a new scalp cooling device that has shown some promise at preventing hair loss. Newly diagnosed breast cancer patients are needed to help test out the device, with a trial set to begin in December. Read more in the news release.

Another trial is focusing on breast cancer survivors and a medication they take for multiple years to prevent the disease from coming back. Many women will suffer from vaginal dryness, a common side effect of the medication, and stop taking their medication before recommended to give the patient the greatest chance to prevent recurrence. Dr. Polly Niravath is testing a new approach to managing this side effect, and breast cancer survivors are needed to participate. Read more in the news release.

“Both of these studies are very important for patients. Hair loss is the most feared side effect of chemotherapy, and preventing it by a simple means would make a real impact on improving quality of life,” said Dr. Kent Osborne, director of the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center and the NCI-designated Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center. “Similarly, vaginal dryness, which is a common symptom of menopause in women without cancer when levels of estrogen fall, can be easily treated with estrogen replacement therapy in those women. However, standard estrogen therapy is often contraindicated in women with breast cancer because the estrogen could stimulate the tumor to grow. In these women little is available other than vaginal moisturizers, which are minimally effective. A new safe way to improve this symptom would also make a major positive impact on quality of life.“

-By Glenna Picton

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