Staying “Abreast” With MSK News

Historically BMI has been used by doctors to identify if individuals are of a healthy weight. Since BMI does not take into account fat, muscle, and bone composition, it is not the best indicator of disease risk. Extra body fat is actually the culprit for disease risk. A study conducted by Dr. Neil Iyengar and his team found that this is true when it comes to breast cancer risk. Many breast cancer tumors are estrogen-receptive, so increases in estrogen cause them to grow. The study found that women with normal BMIs, those with higher body fat levels were at significantly higher risk of developing ER-positive breast cancer. Women in the top 25% for body fat were twice as likely to develop the cancer than those in the bottom 25%.

The FDA has cleared the first treatment for BRCA-positive breast cancer patients. Lynparza (olaparib) is a type of PARP inhibitor that blocks an enzyme involved in repairing damaged DNA, thus causing cancer cells to not be fixed and die, slowing tumor growth. Dr. Mark Robson, who led the trial, sees the drug as an “exciting new option” for these patients and a “building block” to be used in combination with other treatments.

A dutch study found that women with breast implants may be more likely to develop a rare cancer known as anaplastic large cell lymphoma, an aggressive form of non-Hodgkins lymophoma. MSK’s Dr. Colleen McCarthy contributed an accompanying editorial to the JAMA Oncology study, where she advises women who are considering implants to discuss the risks and options with their doctors. “Breast implants remain among the most studied medical devices available in the world, and breast implant-associated anaplastic large-cell lymphoma is an extremely rare and highly treatable form of lymphoma,” McCarthy added. “For women considering breast implant surgery, the advantages and disadvantages to textured versus smooth shelled implants should be explored.”