Breastlink's Blog

A breast cancer blog with news, opinion, research and practice updates.

Dr. John Link Answers Breast Cancer Questions

By |June 22, 2015|Categories: News||0 Comments

Breastlink Medical Director of Oncology John Link, M.D., recently received a letter from a student asking about oncology and breast cancer. Unfortunately, this junior high school student had recently lost a relative to breast cancer. This experience inspired her to make breast cancer the topic of a yearlong, school research project. Dr. Link was pleased to answer some of her questions. Read his response below.

I am happy to answer your breast cancer questions to help with your research project. It sounds like a good project to work on. It made me sad to hear about your loved one having died of breast cancer.


Breast Cancer Incidences Expected to Grow

By |May 21, 2015|Categories: News||0 Comments

Over the next several decades, the incidence of breast cancer is expected to rise. We will also witness shifting patterns regarding the types of breast cancer diagnosed and ages of women diagnosed. As these changes occur, it is critical for breast cancer treatment teams to consider each case individually.

It is necessary for physicians to consider each patient’s disease on a case-by-case basis. Every breast cancer and every woman diagnosed with breast cancer is different. It is critical that women receive care tailored to their individual needs. A multidisciplinary team of breast cancer specialists will consider all possible options according to cancer subtype and personal goals to ensure women receive […]

Do Specialists Make a Difference in Breast Cancer Surgery?

By |May 11, 2015|Categories: Dr. Lisa Curcio, Surgery|Tags: |0 Comments

Breastlink doctors specialize specifically in breast cancer care and treatment. While we can talk about the benefits of specialization, is there actually evidence to suggest that specialists can improve outcomes for breast cancer patients?

To answer that question, it is worth revisiting a 2003 study that investigated how patients fared following breast cancer surgery when treated by a breast-dedicated surgical oncologist.

What Makes a Breast-Dedicated Surgical Oncologist?

Surgical oncology is not a boarded subspecialty. This means it can be difficult to determine whether a surgeon is a specialist in breast cancer surgery. One indicator is whether they belong to a professional medical association committed to advancing surgical oncology or breast cancer surgery.

Professional […]

How Do Single-Gene & Multi-Gene Tests Compare?

By |April 30, 2015|Categories: News, Screening|Tags: , |4 Comments

The landscape of testing for hereditary cancer predisposition genes has been in rapid evolution. Recently developed tests can evaluate up to 43 genetic mutations associated with increased risk for a variety of cancers including breast cancer. Using data collected from our clinics, my Breastlink colleagues and I have analyzed how safe and effective these newer multi-gene tests are in comparison to previous methods of genetic testing.

Genetic Mutations  breast cancer | gene tests

The Development of Multi-Gene Tests for Breast Cancer Risk

Two key events have helped change the face of genetic testing:

  • Technology became so advanced with next generation sequencing that it became as […]

USPSTF Recommendations Ignore Reality of Breast Cancer

By |April 24, 2015|Categories: Imaging, Screening||0 Comments

Annual mammogram screening beginning at age 40 saves lives. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends less frequent screening at a later age, not because screening will not save lives, but because it will not save sufficient numbers of lives when started before age 50.

The guidelines are based on outdated, blemished data and do not evaluate cost-effectiveness or any other benefits of early detection. In fact, USPSTF states, “Screening mammography in women ages 40 to 49 years may reduce the risk of dying of breast cancer, but the number of deaths averted is much smaller than in older women and the number of false-positive tests and unnecessary biopsies are larger.”

Understanding Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

By |April 14, 2015|Categories: Dr. Lisa Curcio, News||0 Comments

There are steps all women can take to reduce their chances of developing breast cancer.

It is not possible to completely eliminate your chances for developing breast cancer, but there are steps you can take to reduce risk. Some risk factors, like age and genetics, cannot be changed. However, certain lifestyle choices can help you to prevent breast cancer and there are steps you can take to minimize risk associated with factors you have no control over.

This post is the first in a Breastlink series on breast cancer risk and prevention. Here, we will go over some of the risk factors that affect your chances of developing breast cancer and […]

Breast Biopsy Results Not Always Accurate

By |April 9, 2015|Categories: Surgery||0 Comments

The results from a recent breast biopsy study reinforce the importance pathologists play in the management of breast diseases. Oncologists can have all the greatest tools at their disposal, but without an accurate diagnosis, these tools can be rendered useless.

A new study, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), provides further evidence towards this inclination. The March 2015 study suggests that pathologist frequently disagree on some high-risk breast lesions.

Breast Biopsy | Is it ADH or DCIS?


  • Pathologists generally agreed, at a rate of 96 percent, when it came to samples of invasive breast cancer.
  • When pathologists were studying DCIS samples, they were able to reach […]

Breast Cancer Patients Lack Knowledge of Disease

By |April 2, 2015|Categories: Oncology, Surgery||1 Comment

Many breast cancer patients are unfamiliar with basic information about their disease. Researchers who recently surveyed patients regarding tumor stage, grade and hormone receptor status were surprised by the amount of women without accurate knowledge of these cancer characteristics. Without information about their condition, women miss out on opportunities to improve their health and outcomes.

Do Breast Cancer Patients Understand Their Disease?

Few studies have investigated whether women with breast cancer understand specific details about their cancer. In a survey of 500 women, researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston sought to find out how much women actually know about their disease. Results were published in the January 2015 issue […]

Many Unaware of Cancer Risk Factors

By |March 23, 2015|Categories: Dr. Lisa Curcio, Screening||0 Comments

There are steps you can take to help prevent cancer. Many lifestyle choices we make can increase or decrease our risk. However, a recent survey suggests many patients do not understand how these choices affect their chances for developing cancer.

How Well Do Americans Understand Cancer Risk Factors?

To gauge general understanding of cancer risk factors, the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) has periodically surveyed patients since 2001. The AICR 2015 Cancer Risk Awareness Survey included responses from more than 1,100 individuals. Here are some of the results:

  • Only 42 percent of respondents were aware that diets low in vegetables and fruit can increase cancer risk. This is […]

Breast Tissue Density Awareness

By |March 16, 2015|Categories: Imaging||2 Comments

Breast Density Awareness Varies Among American Women

Awareness of breast tissue density issues varies among American women. Researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota recently performed a national, cross-sectional survey to gauge differences in breast density knowledge across different patient populations.

Breast Tissue Density awareness

Approximately 1,500 women responded to the survey and results were published in Journal of Clinical Oncology. Based on results, researchers determined that race and ethnicity, education and income played a role in how likely a woman was to understand breast tissue density issues.

  • 58 percent of respondents had heard of breast density.
  • 49 percent were aware breast cancer detection can be affected by breast density.
  • 53 percent […]