This year, the Rays of Hope Walk & Run Toward the Cure of Breast Cancer will celebrate its 30th anniversary. Over the past three decades, Rays of Hope has supported breast cancer care, research, and education in western Massachusetts.
Here are three exciting updates from the world of breast cancer care from our team at Baystate Health.
Dr. Grace Makari-Judson, medical director of the D’Amour Center for Cancer Care, chair of the Baystate Health Breast Network, and co-director of the Rays of Hope Center for Breast Cancer Research, was joined by Dr. Prarthna Bhardwaj, hematology oncology fellow at UMass Chan Medical School – Baystate at the 2022 San Antonia Breast Cancer Symposium. Here are a few updates they shared.
1. Breast Cancer and Pregnancy
When a person is diagnosed and treated for breast cancer, that treatment, including hormone therapy, is often recommended for five years, which reduces a woman’s egg reserves and changes of a successful pregnancy. Previously, medical professionals recommended waiting five years until the completion or discontinuation of therapy to try to get pregnant. A recent study found that women between 27-43 years of age who had already received between 18-30 months of hormonal therapy could interrupt treatment for roughly two years to attempt to get pregnant without a higher than usual short-term risk of cancer recurrence.
2. Managing Side Effects of Hormonal Therapy
Breast cancer patients on hormonal therapy often experience chronic muscle and joint pain. This pain can be so debilitating for some that they discontinue hormonal therapy, which is a key strategy for decreasing breast cancer recurrence. In a recent study, researchers examined the impact of yoga as a complementary therapy for breast cancer patients to help aid in easing pain. The findings concluded that women with breast cancer—during and after completion of treatment—who performed yoga consistently for six months had an improvement in their physical and emotional function, and fatigue and pain levels. This benefit continued over a period of four years. More than 50% of the women had an improved overall quality of life from their baseline.
Yoga proves to be a low-cost, low-risk therapy that improves day-to-day activity in those with breast cancer, providing much needed relief physically and emotionally to patients.
3. Welcoming New Team Members
The Baystate Regional Cancer Program welcomed Dr. Bryan Lee to the team this winter. Dr. Lee is a hematologist oncologist whose primary focus is breast cancer. His primary practice sites are the D’Amour Center for Cancer Care and Baystate Medical Center. To set up an appointment, please call 413-794-9338.
Learn more about how you can support Rays of Hope and save the date to join us for the 30th anniversary on Sunday, October 22, 2023.