Nation &* World Briefs 03-25-14 Study ties breast gene to high-risk uterine cancer

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Women with a faulty breast cancer gene might face a greater chance of rare but deadly uterine tumors despite having their ovaries removed to lower their main cancer risks, doctors are reporting.

A study of nearly 300 women with bad BRCA1 genes found four cases of aggressive uterine cancers years after they had preventive surgery to remove their ovaries. That rate is 26 times greater than expected.

"One can happen. Two all of a sudden raises eyebrows," and four is highly suspicious, said Dr. Noah Kauff of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

His study, reported Monday at a cancer conference in Florida, is the first to make this link. Although it's not enough evidence to change practice now, doctors say women with these gene mutations should be told of the results and consider having their uterus removed along with their ovaries.

"It's important for women to have that information ... but I think it's too early to strongly recommend to patients that they undergo a hysterectomy" until more research confirms the finding, said Dr. Karen Lu, a specialist in women's cancers at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

She plans to study similar patients at her own hospital, the nation's largest cancer center, to see if they, too, have higher uterine cancer risks.

FDA reviews screening kits: The Food and Drug Administration is weighing the benefits and risks of two experimental colon cancer screening tests which use DNA from a patient's stool to detect dangerous tumors and growths. FDA scientists have questions about the accuracy and the potential real-world impact of the kits from Epigenomics and Exact Sciences, according to briefing documents posted online Monday. The agency released its reviews of the tests ahead of a two-day meeting that starts Wednesday. Doctors have long used stool tests to look for hidden blood that can be a warning sign of tumors and precancerous polyps. Colon cancer is usually treatable if growths are detected and removed before they multiply and spread to other parts of the body.

No full probe of McMorris Rodgers: The House Ethics Committee said Monday it will not appoint a special panel to investigate allegations that Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the fourth-highest ranking House Republican, improperly combined campaign and official funds in a GOP leadership race and her re-election campaign. The committee's top two leaders, Reps. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, and Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., said they will not formally drop the case against McMorris Rodgers, but will continue to review the matter under their own authority. In practical terms, the decision means it is unlikely that McMorris Rodgers will face charges or sanctions.

Breaks Girl Scout cookie sales mark: Kate Francis, of Oklahoma City, who said she asks everyone she meets to buy Girl Scout cookies has broken the organization's decades-old sales record by a margin about the size of a Thin Mint. Francis sold 18,107 boxes in the seven-week sales period that ended Sunday night. The previous mark was set by Elizabeth Brinton, who sold approximately 18,000 one year in the 1980s. The sixth-grade student told The Oklahoman newspaper last month that there were only three ingredients needed to rack up large sales: a lot of time, a lot of commitment and asking everyone she met to buy. Katie sold 12,428 boxes last year.

Ukraine in troop pullout: Russia's foreign minister met with his Ukrainian counterpart for the first time on Monday and demanded more autonomy for Ukraine's regions, even as Ukraine under pressure ordered its troops out from Crimea after the Russian seizure of military bases there. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in an unexpected move agreed to the highest level meeting yet between the Russian government and a representative of the new Ukrainian government that Moscow has opposed vociferously over the past month. The meeting took place on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in the Hague, Netherlands.

Egypt sentences to death nearly 530: An Egyptian court Monday sentenced to death nearly 530 suspected backers of ousted President Mohammed Morsi over a deadly attack on a police station, capping a swift, two-day mass trial in which defense attorneys were not allowed to present their case. It was the largest single batch of death sentences in the world in recent years, Amnesty International said. The U.S. State Department said it "defies logic" that so many people could get a fair trial in just two sessions. The verdicts by a court in the city of Minya are subject to appeal and are likely to be overturned.

Judge Brown arrested in Tennessee: The star of the television show "Judge Joe Brown" has been arrested and charged with five counts of contempt of court in Tennessee, court officials in Memphis said Monday. Shelby County Juvenile Court officials said the 66-year-old Brown was sentenced to five days in jail after causing an outburst Monday in a child support hearing. Brown is running in the Democratic primary for Shelby County district attorney general. Magistrate Judge Harold "Hal" Horne charged the former TV judge with contempt of court, said Dan Michael, chief magistrate judge of the Shelby County Juvenile Court. "He darn near caused a riot in the courtroom, he had people so inflamed," Michael said of the former TV judge. Brown could not be reached for comment.

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