First Line


The Place To Be | Joining FORCEs Conference

People and families affected by hereditary breast or ovarian cancer, related cancers or a BRCA mutation are invited to a June conference sponsored by FORCE, or Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered. Titled Joining FORCEs Against Hereditary Cancer and held in partnership with Penn Medicine’s Basser Research Center for BRCA, the international conference will take place June 18-20 at the Philadelphia Downtown Marriott Hotel.

Also welcome are patient advocates, researchers and health care providers who treat high-risk patients.

Presentation topics will include genetics, hormone therapy for previvors, treatments, prevention tactics, sexuality issues, fertility, lifestyle choices in survivorship, consequences of menopause, and insurance and legal rights. There will be opportunities for attendees to enroll in clinical trials of treatments for these diseases, including studies funded by Basser, and to consider becoming advocates to improve the lives of people with these hereditary gene mutations or cancers.

The event will feature a “Show and Tell Room” where women contemplating mastectomies can speak with those who have undergone the procedure and surgeons who perform it. Also on the agenda is an After-Hours Spouse Support Group.

The general registration price is $210, and one-day passes are $125. For more information, visit events/annual-conference/index.php.

People Report | Jolie Has Preventive Surgery, but Cautions Others with BRCA Mutations to Consider Options

Actress Angelina Jolie told the world about the continuation of her cancer prevention journey on March 24, when she announced in the New York Times that she’d had her ovaries and fallopian tubes prophylactically removed.

Jolie, who wrote that her BRCA1 gene mutation increases the likelihood that she will develop breast or ovarian cancer by 87 and 50 percent, respectively, announced in a similar editorial two years ago that she had undergone a prophylactic double mastectomy.

In the recent piece, Jolie wrote that she had her ovaries and tubes removed after a cancer scare: A doctor told her that inflammatory markers in her blood, which could indicate the presence of cancer, were high. Although further testing did not reveal any cancer, Jolie decided due to her elevated risk and family history to go forward with the surgery, which put her into menopause.

“I did not do this solely because I carry the BRCA1 gene mutation, and I want other women to hear this,” Jolie wrote. “A positive BRCA test does not mean a leap to surgery…There are other options. Some women take birth control pills or rely on alternative medicines combined with frequent checks…The most important thing is to learn about the options and choose what is right for you personally.”

Valerie Harper, the Emmy Award winning actress who starred in the 1970s television shows “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Rhoda,” was the keynote speaker at CURE’s Extraordinary Healer Awards ceremony, held April 23 in Orlando, Fla., on the eve of the Oncology Nursing Society’s 40th Annual Congress.

Harper, 76, is living with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a cancer that affects the meninges, membranes around the brain. The disease is a recurrence of the lung cancer with which Harper was diagnosed in 2009.

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