"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Further studies on breast cancer

MARISA C. WEISS: Hi. I'm Dr. Marisa Weiss, Chief Medical Officer of Breastcancer.org, reporting to you from ASCO 2023 with WebMD. I'm reporting on a study that we, Breastcancer.org, did as a survey. Over 1,400 people participated, and we checked out the impact of race and ethnicity in your job – your employment. And not only your employment, but your employment and the employment of your caregivers.

And what we found was quite extraordinary: 92% of ladies had a change in employment – about 62% were working full-time on the time of diagnosis. That dropped to 40%. For women with metastatic breast cancer, that dropped from 56% to 25% who were working full-time, just because the demands of caregiving really disrupted their work situation.

For individuals with non-metastatic breast cancer, the full-time employment rate dropped from 63% to 42% after treatment, and most of the people attributed this alteration in employment to breast cancer and its associated demands. This was particularly true for Hispanic women, who were more prone to be younger at diagnosis, have younger children at home, be in later stages of the disease, and have jobs that were so inflexible that that they had to take unpaid leave. They were way more prone to must take unpaid leave.

And for caregivers, for Hispanic women, for instance, about 58% had to scale back their employment from full-time to part-time. And that was 58% of Hispanic women in comparison with 41% of black women and 25% of white women. So there's an enormous disparity. So the underside line is that breast cancer can really disrupt your life, and your job is what puts food on the table and a roof over your head. And it's not only you and your caregivers.

MARISA WEISS: Hi, I'm Dr. Marisa Weiss, chief medical officer of Breastcancer.org, reporting to you today from ASCO 2023 with WebMD. At Breastcancer.org, we did a survey with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to essentially learn the way difficult it's, what hurdles you've got to beat to get short-term and long-term disability advantages and fight back against insurance denials for treatment. Over 1,400 people took the survey. And about 60% were white, 27% were Hispanic, and about 8% were Black.

Most people had early-stage disease, but 11% had metastases. We found that 32% of individuals applied for short-term disability advantages, 26% applied for long-term, which was more common in individuals with metastatic breast cancer. And while 74% of individuals were approved for these disability payments, a minimum of 25% said it was really difficult. Just filling out and submitting these forms, understanding the questions, and the language barriers – it was a difficult process.

And in fact, for individuals with language barriers, reminiscent of Hispanic women, it was even worse: 50% more work and more difficulty. And for ladies with metastatic disease, it was more work and more difficulty to use. In addition, a couple of third of applicants filed an appeal with their insurance company since the insurance company refused to cover some costs, for instance.

And sometimes people needed to appeal two to 5 times. And for individuals with metastatic disease, even greater than five times. So it's a number of work to use for disability advantages, apply for FMLA, and appeal an insurance denial.

So if you happen to end up in this example, don't – to start with, you usually are not alone. There are many individuals who've experienced this. It's a complete pain, but you possibly can get help.

MARISA WEISS: Hi, I'm Dr. Marisa Weiss, chief medical officer of Breastcancer.org. I'm reporting from ASCO 2023 with WebMD. I just need to update you on a study from Columbia University in New York that checked out the prevalence, the speed, of peripheral neuropathy brought on by chemotherapy. This means numbness and tingling pain within the hands and feet. It may also cause difficulty with motor functions like buttoning a shirt or opening a peanut butter jar or whatever you utilize to open a jar.

And they found that chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy was more common in patients who received paclitaxel (also called taxol chemotherapy) than in patients who received docetaxel or taxotere chemotherapy. We already knew this, however it's good to see one other report showing that in patients who received paclitaxel or taxol chemotherapy, the speed of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy on this particular study was quite high, 50%. In patients who received paclitaxel, it was about 40%.

So that's a major difference. If you're diagnosed with early-stage or more advanced breast cancer and your doctor tells you that you just need chemotherapy, it's best to ask them what variety of chemotherapy you would like. And allow them to know that you just're aware that Taxol chemotherapy is more prone to cause a side effect like chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. And discover what you possibly can do to scale back the incidence of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy.

One thing is the cryo mittens, that are cold gloves that you just put your hands in during and after the infusion. They seem to scale back the incidence of CIPN – peripheral neuropathy brought on by chemotherapy.

And in one other study, which I'll let you know about in a moment, I used to be the lead investigator and investigated the role of CBD (cannabidiol), which appeared to scale back the intensity of numbness and tingling related to chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy in patients with this symptom.

So there are necessary steps you possibly can take to scale back the incidence of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy and its impact in your quality of life.

MARISA C. WEISS: Hi. I'm Marisa Weiss, MD, chief medical officer of Breastcancer.org, here with you at ASCO 2023 with WebMD. I'm reporting on a crucial study examining the role of CBD – cannabidiol – in treating patients with chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. These are individuals who have had peripheral neuropathy either resulting from a taxane like Taxol or Taxotere or resulting from platinum-based chemotherapy.

And we found that study participants were randomized to receive either 135 milligrams of hemp-derived CBD or a placebo, took the drug for 3 months, and we followed them for a further month. We found that the patients who received CBD as an alternative of a placebo experienced less numbness and tingling, but showed no changes in pain or their motor function in comparison with the placebo patients.

And that's actually a crucial finding because CBD was well tolerated. It reduced the symptoms of numbness and tingling, that are common, difficult uncomfortable side effects of those commonly used drugs. And that side effect gets in the way in which of many individuals completing their chemotherapy, particularly black women who've breast cancer. They're more prone to develop chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy and stop their treatment early, which can partly explain why they've worse outcomes and are at higher risk of dying from breast cancer.

So we definitely need to seek out ways to forestall chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. I also talked in regards to the cold gloves to scale back the frequency. But what are you able to do to scale back the intensity and duration of symptoms when you've got this disease? And it looks like CBD, cannabidiol – and the product we used was Ananda Hemp Ecofibre. They actually supported the study. I just desired to share that with you.

135 milligrams per day in comparison with placebo. It is on the market online and not using a prescription. You don't need a medical marijuana card to get these hemp-derived CBD products. And it reduced the occurrence of numbness and tingling, which is a standard, difficult side effect of chemotherapy, helping to enhance your quality of life.