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Study Describes Women With 'Double Cancer Syndrome'

Study Describes Women With 'Double Cancer Syndrome'

SAN FRANCISCO--Approximately 6% of all women diagnosed with ovarian
cancer have had a previous diagnosis of breast cancer, Jeffrey
G. Schneider, MD, said at the annual conference of the Society
of Gynecologic Oncologists.

Research from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center has shown
that women susceptible to this "double cancer syndrome"
are more likely to have had good prognosis breast cancer at a
relatively early age.

"The double-cancer syndrome--a breast cancer followed by
an ovarian cancer--is a significant problem and has not been previously
characterized," Dr. Schneider, a medical oncologist formerly
at Sloan-Kettering and now at Winthrop University Hospital, Mineola,
NY, told Oncology News International.

The findings from the study may be used to develop a screening
protocol for women with breast cancer, to facilitate early detection
of subsequent ovarian cancers, he said.

Dr. Schneider and his colleagues at Sloan-Kettering reviewed an
ovarian cancer database that included 887 women who presented
to Sloan-Kettering with a diagnosis of epithelial ovarian cancer.
Of that group, 53 (6%) had a previous history of breast cancer.

In this 53-patient cohort, breast cancer presented, on average,
a decade earlier than in typical patients, Dr. Schneider said.
The median age for breast cancer diagnosis in the cohort was 44
years; a third of the patients were younger than 40 at the time
of diagnosis.

The patients tended to have small tumors, and three quarters had
negative axillary lymph node dissections. These patients had a
low propensity for developing metastatic disease. However, almost
one quarter developed a new primary cancer in the contralateral
breast.

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