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Bad Neighbors
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Treatment Snapshot
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Excerpt from "Only 10 Seconds to Care"
December 23, 2009 – Wendy Harpham, MD
Cancer as a Turning Point
December 23, 2009 – Don Vaughan
Best Face Forward
December 23, 2009 – Lacey Meyer
Recipes from Chef Hans Rueffert
December 20, 2009
A Skinny Chef You Can Trust
December 22, 2009 – Karen Patterson
Getting Help
December 23, 2009 – Jo Cavallo
Stress Reducers
December 23, 2009 – Laurie M. Fisher
Cisforcupid.com
December 23, 2009 – Lacey Meyer
Only 10 Seconds to Care: Help and Hope for Busy Clinicians
December 23, 2009 – Kathy LaTour
Flavored-Cigarette Ban Takes Effect, With More to Come
December 23, 2009 – Lacey Meyer
Stress, Depression & PTSD
December 23, 2009 – Laurie M. Fisher
Imaging Strategies: The Bigger Picture
December 23, 2009 – Laura Beil
Herceptin Combinations Improve Survival, Lessen Heart Toxicity
December 23, 2009 – Laura Beil
Integrative Techniques: A Sampler
December 23, 2009 – Marc Silver
Drug Therapies
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Letters from Our Readers
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Treatment Updates
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CDC picks up the tab for colon cancer screening
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Patients' Songs Take Flight
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Q&A: Cervical Cancer Vaccine
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Comfort in Strange Places
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The 'Price' is $1 Million
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Pancreatic Cancer Symposia
December 23, 2009
Tired of Being Tired?
December 23, 2009 – Lacey Meyer
Message From the Editor
December 23, 2009 – Debu Tripathy, MD
Beneficial Brew
December 23, 2009 – Lena Huang
Gut Reaction
December 23, 2009 – Karen Patterson
Today's Lesson: Cancer
December 23, 2009 – Bunmi Ishola
Uncertain Obligations
December 23, 2009 – Jo Cavallo
Beyond Face Value
December 22, 2009 – Terry Healey
Cancer's Silver Lining
December 22, 2009 – Don Vaughan
Kids Allowed
December 21, 2009 – Marc Silver
Layman's Terms
December 23, 2009 – Charlotte Huff
All Stressed Out
December 23, 2009 – Laurie M. Fisher
Bad Neighbors
December 22, 2009 – Laura Beil

Mutant Tissue Wanted

Meggan Keith, PhD, is taking matters—and breast cancer—into her own hands

BY Kathy LaTour
PUBLISHED December 23, 2009

Specifically, Keith wanted to look at researching why tissue carrying the mutation can become cancerous.

“I was told that because it was my tissue, I couldn’t work with it,” Keith says. “But the idea was there and didn’t go away.”

Keith learned that the tissue taken from women in her position—those with a mutation who had not yet developed breast cancer—would be banked as normal because there was no tumor at the time of surgery. She also knew that there were more and more BRCA-positive women undergoing prophylactic mastectomies, which led her to propose the creation of a new tissue bank at Albany, where the tissue from these women could be stored for research. (Other tissue banks exist across the country that collect normal breast tissue from women at normal risk, slightly elevated risk, and those carrying BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations.)

“Making cell lines from this tissue will provide a source of BRCA1- or BRCA2-mutated cell lines that will let researchers study how normal cells carrying the mutations progress to become cancers,” Keith says. “My goal is to take tissue from women who know they have the mutation so we can start from a point that it’s not cancer, but we know it’s not normal.”

Martin Tenniswood, PhD, director of the Cancer Research Center, says the creation of such a bank, although painstaking and time-consuming, will provide a valuable resource for researchers interested in understanding the other environmental factors that might lead to cancer in women with the mutations.

Keith is currently seeking surgeons who perform prophylactic surgeries who would be willing to ask patients with the mutations to donate tissue, as well as women who are positive for a BRCA mutation who are considering preventive surgery. Keith can be contacted at mkeith@albany.edu

Meggan Keith, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at University at Albany’s Cancer Research Center, chose to research cancer because of a family history that included losing her mother, aunt, and grandmother to cancer. But the disease became more personal when Keith, who knew she carried the BRCA2 gene mutation, decided after numerous suspicious biopsies to undergo a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy in 2008 at age 28. Luckily, there was no cancer found, and, like any good researcher, she wanted to make good use of the tissue. 

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