Women's Health Watch

DECEMBER 01, 2008

Mastectomy Preferred for Breast Cancer Recurrence

Mastectomy remains the best option for women when breast cancer returns after a lumpectomy, reported researchers in the October 2008 issue of the American Journal of Surgery. The findings indicated that the survival rates are better with breast removal.

The study involved 747 women who had a same?breast cancer recurrence after undergoing breast conservation therapy. Of the women, 24% underwent a second lumpectomy. The survival rate after 5 years was 67% for women who had a lumpectomy, compared with 78% for those who had a mastectomy. An analysis verified that lumpectomy lowered survival odds by 50%.

"We were surprised to find that so many women in our study?almost a quarter of them?had received another lumpectomy rather than a mastectomy," said researcher Steven L. Chen, MD. "It's likely," he added, "that patients are asking for lumpectomies when their cancer is diagnosed a second time, and their doctors are simply complying with that request."

Muscle Strengthening Reduces Knee Injury

Good news for women who play sports. A newly designed program of strengthening exercise may help guard against anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries that bench many athletes.

Whereas other strengthening and flexibility programs have reduced injuries to the ACL, oftentimes they require special equipment. For the current study, the researchers wanted a program that could be easily integrated into regular team practices. The study involved 61 women's soccer teams in the National Collegiate Athletic Association and >1400 athletes.

Some of the teams used the new program and a control group followed their usual routine. The new program took only about 20 minutes 3 times a week and resulted in a 41% decrease in reported ACL injuries. The findings were recently published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine.

Does Pregnancy Depression Lead to Preterm Delivery?

A new study reported in the October 23, 2008, issue of Human Reproduction found a link between pregnancy depression and preterm delivery.

For the study, the researchers screened women for depression about 10 weeks into their pregnancies. More than 40% reported having major depressive symptoms, and half of those women reported having severe depressive symptoms. A total of 791 women completed the screening and delivered a live baby. Women with major depressive symptoms were nearly 2 times as likely to deliver a preterm baby (before 37 weeks of gestation).

The researchers hypothesized that depression during pregnancy might interfere with placental hormones that help maintain a healthy pregnancy and ensure labor does not happen too soon.

F A S T   F A C T: In 2005, nearly 12.7 million women aged 18 years and older reported using an illicit drug within the past year.

Chronic Pain Therapy: Women Fare Better

A Mayo Clinic study found that women seem to respond better to chronic pain treatment, compared with men. Men who smoke also appear to show less improvement after therapy, according to research recently presented at the American Society of Anesthesiologists annual meeting.

The study included >1200 men and women admitted to a 3-week outpatient pain treatment program. The program's goal was to restore physical functionality and reduce or eliminate use of medications for chronic pain. Previous studies have indicated that smokers typically do not benefit as much as nonsmokers from pain management, mainly because their physical health is subpar going into the program.

Lead researcher W. Michael Hooten, MD, also attributed men showing poor improvement in a pain management program to work activities and/or other societal factors. He recommended further research should focus on finding treatment options that could help men who smoked.

Women Baby Boomers Killing Themselves

The suicide rate among middle-aged white women is increasing. The rate declined, however, for blacks and remained stable for Asians and Native Americans.

Using the Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System, the researchers found that from 1999 to 2005 the overall suicide rate in the United States increased 0.7%. Among middle-aged white women, however, the annual increase was 3.9%, compared with 2.7% for middle-aged white men. One possible explanation the researchers offered is that physicians may not be paying enough attention to the mental health of their middle-aged white patients to notice the risk of suicide. The findings were reported online October 21, 2008, in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.