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This Week in BMC Cancer: Sep 5, 2011

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In BMC Cancer this week, researcher Jean-Jacques Body from the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium reviews what he calls the "hidden risk" of fracture rate in women with breast cancer. Women with breast cancer, particularly those diagnosed at an early age, have increased incidence of fractures, Body says, the primary cause of which appears to be accelerated decrease in bone mineral density brought on by a loss of estrogenic signaling that occurs with most treatments for breast cancer. The rapid density decrease during adjuvant chemoendocrine therapy may necessitate more aggressive pharmacotherapy than is indicated for healthy women who develop bone loss, Body says. "Over the last few years, clinical trials have established the effectiveness of bisphosphonates and other antiresorptive agents to preserve BMD during adjuvant therapy for early breast cancer," he adds. "In addition, some bisphosphonates (e.g., zoledronic acid) may also delay disease recurrence in women with hormone-responsive tumors, thereby providing an adjuvant benefit in addition to preserving BMD and potentially preventing fractures."

Also in BMC Cancer this week, researchers in Malaysia present a study on the oxidative stress and antioxidant status in primary bone and soft tissue sarcomas. The team studied 94 subjects — 20 patients with soft tissue sarcoma, 27 with primary bone sarcoma, and 47 healthy controls — to measure oxidative stress levels, and found that sarcoma patients showed a significant increase in plasma and urinary malondialdehyde and protein carbonyl levels compared to the controls. The team also noted decreases in trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity, thiols, catalase, and superoxide dismutase levels in sarcoma patients, indicating a decrease in antioxidants. "This study offers the basis for further work on whether the manipulation of redox balance in patients with sarcoma represents a useful approach in the design of future therapies for bone disease," the team writes.

And finally in BMC Cancer this week, researchers in Ireland present a study on using younger age as a prognostic factor in breast cancer. The team studied data from 276 women diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 40 and 2,869 breast cancer patients over 40. In contrast with their elder counterparts, the younger women had higher tumor grades and stages, a lower incidence of lobular tumors, higher estrogen-receptor negativity, and higher HER2 over-expression, the team found. However, there was no significant difference in overall survival between the two groups.

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