All posts by bcsurgery

High-tech bra aims to find breast cancer

Here’s a link about an exciting technology development called the iTbra that aims to compliment or improve on mammography: tiny sensors worn inside a bra for a couple hours each month that can send information to your smart phone. I had a chance yesterday to discuss the importance of breast cancer detection and finding new options at the premiere showing of Detected, a movie about the bra. Cisco, a San Jose technology company, funded the movie. The iTbra is in clinical studies at Ohio State University and abroad. It is NOT available as a product in the U.S.

I talked about breast cancer detection in my talk preceding the movie. It is a topic I have followed since 1992 when I wrote a story for the Detroit Free Press about how 2/3rds of Detroit area mammogram machines flunked state inspections in the first year of a landmark state law, introduced by Rep. Maxine Berman, that went on to be a model for a national mammography quality law. I gave special thanks in my talk to Berman; the Detroit Free Press, which gave me time and support to write about mammography quality through my 22 year career as medical writer, particularly with data help from librarian Victoria Turk; Donna Dauphinais, who inspired the book I wrote on breast cancer surgery and reconstruction options; and Free Press photographer Kathleen Galligan, whose elegant photos and personal story of breast cancer, brought to life the stories I told of women in “Breast Cancer Surgery and Reconstruction: What’s Right for You,” published last year by Rowman and Littlefield. I am delighted to report that we just heard the book will come out in paperback in December. I will update you about that as well as the iTbra.

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I had the pleasure yesterday of talking about a long-time passion, breast cancer detection, before the premier of a new documentary, Detected, about a

1 of Every 2 U.S. Women Consider Prophylactic Double Mastectomy for Early Tumors, University of Michigan Study Finds

One of every two women with early-stage breast cancer now consider removing both breasts, even though they only have cancer in one, according to a new University of Michigan study. This option has soared upwards from 3.9% in 2002, it said.

A quarter of women with early-stage breast cancer and a favorable prognosis strongly considered…

Lower-income Women Less Likely to Undergo Breast Reconstruction, Study Finds

Lower-income women are less likely to undergo breast reconstruction. This is why education remains a vital mission for everyone. Do your part to tell a public library to carry our book, “Breast Cancer Surgery and Reconstruction: What’s Right for You,” or donate our book to some low-profit near you that serves lower-income women to help end these disparities.

Heart Health Tips for Breast Cancer Prevention

Good health is important to the prevention of breast cancer, and its recurrence. Here, Dr. Tom Rifai, a leading doctor who heads the weight loss and chronic disease prevention program for the Henry Ford Health System explains the right way to measure cholesterol; the proper way to take a blood pressure reading; and ways to turn around borderline pre-diabetes numbers, measured in a 3-month test of blood sugar called the a1c. Check out his FB pages as well.




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Reality Meets Science was live.

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“aLIVE with Dr Tom Rifai!” on fan question: “I’m prediabetic – what can I do that is RMS lifestyle friendly?”

Sharing Our Book and the Power of Social Media

This is a story about the powerful reach of Facebook. I posted to show its strength can go so much further than the ordinary purposes.
Breast cancer survivor Julie Wright heard about the breast cancer surgery options book I wrote after she read about it on a Facebook post from a friend, Dr. Tom Rifai. She soon bought a case of “Breast Cancer Surgery and Reconstruction: What’s Right for You,” and has begun to distribute them to cancer centers and women facing breast cancer surgery decisions. Today she posted a message of her goal to distribute as many as she can, along with the story below she found on the Internet that I wrote four years ago as I contemplated writing a book.
Julie is a true angel on earth. I feel she was sent to answer my prayer to use my writing skills for purposes that benefit others. Years ago, I went to the funeral of a famous UM doctor kiled by a mentally ill patient and taped his funeral program to my desk, with this message from Matthew: “I by my work will show you my faith.”

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A journalist finds her cause – and a market – writing books on women’s health.

Take-home Messages from #FORCE17


Here are 4 key messages of #FORCE17, which held its 10th anniversary conference last week on hereditary cancer issues.

  1. One-step and done? Nearly all breast reconstruction is not. Beware too, of scarless mastectomies claims.
  2. Breast reconstruction options for larger-framed women are improving. Now 3 of 10 women get nipple-sparing operations.
  3. Expect more gene discoveries in the next year or two that identify the deadliest tumors needing more aggressive treatment for prostate, pancreatic and other cancers where hereditary plays a role.
  4. Men need genetics testing too.

Summarized by Patricia Anstett, author, “Breast Cancer Surgery and Reconstruction: What’s Right for You,” from presentations at the conference of Facing Our Risk Empowered (FORCE).

Lumpectomy guidelines reduce need for return operations, study shows

After years of women returning for repeat lumpectomies because the margins of their tumor contain cancer, new guidelines are reducing these re-operations. Here’s a new study on the issue:

Breast Surgery Author Wins National Award; Breast Cancer and Other Work Cited

The AWC National Board of Directors is pleased to announce the 2017 Headliner Award to Patricia Anstett of the AWC Detroit Chapter.

Patricia Anstett’s 40-year career as a journalist has always exemplified the highest professional standards.  Anstett is an accomplished journalist, mentor and leader who worked at major newspapers in Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Detroit, including the last 22 years of her journalism career as medical writer for the Detroit Free Press. In April, 2017 she was inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame.

Her medical writing is respected for its accuracy, comprehensiveness, expansive reach and helpful, comforting story-telling. She broke news, told memorable stories and put the spotlight on questionable, shoddy and unethical practices in medicine that brought about important changes. Some of her most significant reporting led to improvements in the quality of mammography standards in Michigan; explained how medicine failed patients at the end-of-life as the Jack Kevorkian assisted suicide debate raged; and propelled new guidelines at the University of Michigan to guard against fraudulent expense account standards and unethical use of research money for a doctor’s private gain.
At the same time, she was a voice for change and gender equality in news coverage and hiring in her own newsroom and within journalism. She mentored more than a dozen interns, mostly minority women, and did classroom teaching around the country as an editor-in-residence at a time when largely male journalism schools were clamoring to bring more women into the classroom to talk to the growing number of women entering the field.
Always honest, courageous and thorough, she is widely recognized for reporting on health issues. Her extensive reporting on all aspects of mammography–compliance with state standards, large pricing differences, insurance reimbursement, access for Medicaid patients and funding for a state and federally-funded program that paid for free mammograms for low-income women– was distinctive, informative, relentless and meaningful.
Her stories had such an impact that failing centers closed; hospitals improved staffing and purchased new machines, including modern digital models proven to be more reliable than older ones. Former State Rep. Maxine Berman, who sponsored the 1989 legislation that created Michigan’s mammography standards and subsequent legislation to improve it, writes: “Without Pat’s unfailing interest and incisive articles, I honestly believe that my legislation may well not have passed or have been diluted into uselessness.”
Anstett retired in 2012 from the Detroit Free Press, after 30 years there, but remains fully engaged as an author in the most fulfilling mission of her career. She has written two books, including “Breast Cancer Surgery and Reconstruction: What’s Right for You,’’ published in 2016 by Rowman & Littlefield.
Anstett has been an AWC member since her college days and has been active in chapters throughout her career.  She is a past president of the AWC Detroit Chapter and was honored by this chapter with the Headliner and Diamond Awards.
Anstett will accept the AWC Headliner Award at the AWC National Professional Development Conference in Addison, TX, where she will also be the speaker at the Headliner Award luncheon on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.