TODAY   |  October 15, 2013

New developments in breast cancer detection

TODAY contributor Dr. Roshini Raj and Norwalk Hospital’s Dr. Adam Ofer explain some of the medical headlines of the week, including the new baby boom from assisted reproductive technologies.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> back with a round up of the headlines you should know about.

>> from blood tests hitting the market to the ivf baby boom .

>> she is assistant professor of medicine and adam is the director of gynecology at norwalk hospital in connecticut. gl -- connecticut. glad to have you you here. a possible association between bpa or high bpa and miscarriage.

>> it's bad stuff. you can't avoid it unfortunately. bpa is an estrogen-like compound. it acts like a hormone in your body. we all have it in our bloodstream. you would find bpa using hard plastics and tin cans we eat out of. beer bottles . soda cans. the problem is it's interacting with our system. we don't know exactly what it's causing but it's not good news. this study looks at the effect of miscarriages. so the women that had the most amount of bpa in their system had 80% higher rate of miscarriages than the women with the lowest amount. this is scary stuff.

>> it's a small study, right?

>> it didn't prove cause and effect . it has been taken out of baby bottles and products children put in their mouth and maybe something that women in general need to be careful of. be prudent. never use plastics when you're heating up something. the heat causes the chemical to leach into the food. be more careful. we don't know for sure.

>> how can you tell? can you avoid it? is there a marking or something?

>> usually it will have a b and a triangle or say bpa or bpa free.

>> yeah.

>> glass is okay.

>> pyrex, those are good things.

>> avoid the plastics. good. this is an exciting new one. blood tests aimed at detecting breast cancer .

>> this is how medicine is heading. if we can detect it with a blood test it's more comfortable. however this has not been proved to improve treatment or survival in cancer. so this is something that may down the road be useful for doctors when they're checking patients that had cancer, they want to see if it recurred or patients at high risk . it's too soon to say this is a widespread test that should be used.

>> this is exciting stuff. this goes along with stuff in medicine now. we're better at finding the needle in the hay stack. we're finding the tumor cells we're able to detect. proteins that help us know we're getting a certain disease process early. we don't know how to understand it or what to do with the information. eventually we might be able to do a blood test and avoid the uncomfortable mammogram. soon they'll be able to use it for prognosis in cancer patients. if somebody has cancer you hear they have positive lymph nodes and now we're starting to look at other cancer cells and how much and we're able to personalize cancer therapy as well.

>> for now, stick to the mammograms, right?

>> stick to the mammograms and talk to your doctor about what is the right screening for you as an individual.

>> so the baby boom , 5 million babies have been born with the help of ivf . two of them are ours. how significant is this?

>> it's significant and half of the 5 million were just in the last several years like six or seven years. so we're seeing a huge increase in the recent years and this has to do with improved success rates but also it's much more acceptable socially. this is something that women talk about more. couples talk about and they consider it a real option. it's no longer something you're afraid of. you're afraid there's health risk associated. it's become safe and effective.

>> ivf has revolutionized infertility treatments. we have a couple of dozen women pregnant with ivf at any one time. the new thing is preimplantation genetics which is amazing. they're able to harvest the eggs, turn them into embryos and let them grow into a cell which takes a couple of days. take one little cell out, check the chromosomes in it and then take only the embryos which are good and put them in. so a woman with multiple miscarriages because she has bad eggs they're able to put in the ones that are okay. a woman can go through those miscarriages which some women do. a woman that has a breast cancer gene and doesn't want to pass that gene to her child. they can put in only the embryos that not longer have that genetic mutation.

>> a lot of controversy.

>> the technology is amazing.

>> ivf has given so much hope to so many families but what are risks and down sides?

>> well, one thing you need to think about is even though we're seeing huge numbers, this is not always successful and to sort of think that i can wait until i'm 40 or 42 i'll use ivf and have a baby, at that age, the chances are you're not going to get pregnant as opposed to getting pregnant. so think about that. but in general it's quite safe and we're seeing that the babies born to ivf do well and are healthy.

>> good point with fertility planning down the road there's egg storage. we're able to store them as eggs or embryos and thaw them out and use them.

>> that's remarkable. great information. thank you so much. appreciate it.