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February 14th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

After Beating Cancer, It’s the Patient Leading the Physician

By Micah Dorfner

Mitzi and Dr. Cockerill 2

Mitzi Roberts, 48, of Mankato, Minn., has been a dancer all of her life. She’s made dancing her livelihood and owns the Dance Express dance studio. On top of her penchant for dancing and operating her business, she decided three years ago to add a Mankato-based dance competition fundraiser to her list of to-dos. However, she wasn’t prepared for the challenge that would appear on the scene during planning stages in the event’s second year.

October 2013 Roberts was diagnosed with breast cancer. “It took the wind out of my sails for a day or two,” Roberts says of the diagnosis.

But she quickly turned a corner and started thinking more optimistically. Roberts continued planning for the 2014 Dancing with the Mankato Stars, which helped keep her mind off the negatives. She also found hope in her Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato oncologist, Kevin Cockerill, M.D.

Feb. 13, at the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato, the two-person team took to the dance floor and competed in Dancing with the Mankato Stars to raise money for the American Red Cross. *They scored three "10's" and won the judge's choice!Dancing with the Mankato Stars - Mitzi and Dr Cockeril

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Tags: Breast Cancer, Dancing with the Mankato Stars, Dr Kevin Cockerill, Mayo Clinic Health System, Mitzi Roberts, patient story

February 10th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

“Jolie Effect” on Awareness of the Breast Cancer Genes

By Elizabeth Zimmermann Young

What every woman needs to know … and do

In a study released Feb. 11, 2015, the AARP Public Policy Institute reported that BRCA genetic testing among women without breast cancer increased dramatically in the days after Angelina Jolie’s announcement that she carried the BRCA1 mutation and had an elective double mastectomy.

Referred to among health care circles as the “Jolie Effect,” her openness led to increased awareness and action. When celebrities or other public figures talk freely about their medical journeys, it raises awareness of specific health issues and may facilitate patient-doctor conversations leading to more informed decision-making.

MEDIA CONTACT: Joe Dangor, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, 507-284-5005,

Amy Degnim, M.D., a breast cancer surgeon at Mayo Clinic, answers some of the important questions surrounding breast cancer genes: Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Angelina Jolie, BRCA gene mutation, BRCA1, BRCA2, Breast Cancer, Optum Labs, preventive mastectomy

January 23rd, 2015 · Leave a Comment

New Breast Exam Nearly Quadruples Detection of Invasive Breast Cancers in Women with Dense Breast Tissue

By Sam Smith

Rochester, Minn. — A new breast imaging technique pioneered at Mayo Clinic nearly quadruples detection rates of invasive breast cancers in women with dense breast tissue, according to the results of a major study published this week in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

Molecular Breast Imaging (right) detected 3.6 times as many invasive cancers as digital mammography (left) in the latest study of more than 1,500 women with dense breast tissue. Results are published in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

Molecular Breast Imaging (right) detected 3.6 times as many invasive cancers as digital mammography (left) in the latest study of more than 1,500 women with dense breast tissue. About half of screening-age women have dense breast tissue, which digital mammography renders the same whitish shade as tumors. Results are published in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

Molecular Breast Imaging (MBI) is a supplemental imaging technology designed to find tumors that would otherwise be obscured by surrounding dense breast tissue on a mammogram. Tumors and dense breast tissue can both appear white on a mammogram, making tumors indistinguishable from background tissue in women with dense breasts. About half of all screening-aged women have dense breast tissue, according to Deborah Rhodes, M.D., a Mayo Clinic Breast Clinic physician and the senior author of this study.

MBI increased the detection rate of invasive breast cancers by more than 360 percent when used in addition to regular screening mammography, according to the study. MBI uses small, semiconductor-based gamma cameras to image the breast following injection of a radiotracer that tumors absorb avidly. Unlike conventional breast imaging techniques, such as mammography and ultrasound, MBI exploits the different behavior of tumors relative to background tissue, producing a functional image of the breast that can detect tumors not seen on mammography.

The study, conducted at Mayo Clinic, included 1,585 women with heterogeneously or extremely dense breasts who underwent an MBI exam at the time of their screening mammogram.

MEDIA CONTACT: Sam Smith, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, 507-284-5005, Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Breast Cancer, Dr Amy Conners, Dr Deborah Rhodes, Dr Michael O'Connor, mammogram, MBI, Minnesota news release, Molecular Breast Imaging, News Release, radiology, supplemental screening, cancer

December 4th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Mayo Clinic’s Discovery’s Edge Launches Android Platform

By Bob Nellis

DE_CoverROCHESTER, Minn. — Android users no longer have to miss out on all the research discoveries coming from Mayo Clinic. The newest issue of Discovery’s Edge, Mayo Clinic’s research magazine, is now available on all Android devices, as well as the iPad, online and in print. Research news from Mayo Clinic — however, whenever and wherever you want to read it.

Highlights in this issue explore the past, present and future of Mayo Clinic research, including:

Biomarker discovery: Staying one step ahead of cancer

Read about a 12-month snapshot of how four researchers combined their talents to discover biomarkers that could help specific patients with difficult medical issues. In that time span, the Biomarker Discovery Program — part of Mayo Clinic’s Center for Individualized Medicine — found 32 biomarkers using custom algorithms and other innovative approaches that physicians can use to aid patients.

Mayo Clinic plugs into drug discovery

Collaboration is also the story of Mayo Clinic’s latest partnership — with Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute. Two organizations looking for just the right counterpart to meet a strategic need found each other at just the right time to fast-track drug discovery for Mayo patients.

Next generation: Developing tomorrow’s biomedical researchers

The path to becoming a biomedical researcher is not for the faint of heart. This issue’s cover story takes a glimpse at three scientists-in-training at Mayo Graduate School and the obstacles they are facing, both personal and professional, as they strive toward careers in research. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: biomarkers, biomedical research, Discovery's Edge, Heart Disease, Mayo Clinic, Mayo Clinic's Discovery's Edge, Medical Research, Minnesota news release, News Release, Research, rheumatoid arthritis, Rochester news release

November 24th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Seeing Cancer Sooner with CT Lung Scans

By Dennis Douda

'Mayo 150 years serving humanity' 150th Sesquicentennial LogoAs the number one cancer killer, lung cancer claims more lives than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined. To help detect it sooner, when it’s far more treatable, Mayo Clinic has launched a Lung Cancer Screening Program. For some, the process is already proving to be a life saver. [TRT: 3:00]

Those wishing to contact Mayo Clinic’s Lung Cancer Screening Program in Rochester, Minn., may call 507-538-0340.

Journalists: A broadcast quality video package and additional b-roll are available in the downloads. To access the script, click here

This is a special report produced for the Mayo Clinic 150th Anniversary Collection of Stories. To view other stories and learn about Mayo Clinic's sesquicentennial, please click here.  

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Tags: CT Scan, Dr. Stephen Cassivi, HL, Lung Cancer, lung screening, Mayo Clinic, Pkg, Pulmonology, thoracic surgery

November 13th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Mayo Clinic Researchers: TNF Inhibitors May Increase Cancer Risk in the Eye

By Bob Nellis

Jose Pulido, M.D., senior author of the study in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Jose Pulido, M.D., senior author of the study in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

ROCHESTER, Minn. — One of the family of drugs prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions is called TNF inhibitors. They act by dampening part of the immune system called tumor necrosis factor (TNF). In one of the balancing acts of medicine, the anti-inflammatory action of the drug also increases the risk for other conditions, in this case, a rare form of eye cancer, uveal melanoma. Mayo Clinic researchers make the case and alert physicians in an article in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

 Mayo researchers studied three patients — two women and a man — who were treated for inflammatory disease and developed melanoma tumors in one eye within a year to two of taking TNF inhibitors. While this type of condition is probably rare, according to the researchers, there might be an increased risk if the patient has a pre-existing nevus (freckle of the eye). The women had inflammatory bowel disease; the man had rheumatoid arthritis. The studies occurred between 2009 and 2013.

Researchers say that patients considered for treatment with TNF inhibitors should first be given an eye exam to determine eye health, and any with existing conditions, such as choroidal nevus (lesions on the eye), should be monitored regularly to determine if any issues are developing.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Robert Nellis, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, 507-284-9258, Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: eye cancer, eye disease, Jose Pulido, Mayo Clinic, News Release, ophthalmology, Rochester, TNF, tumor inhibitor, tumor necrosis factor, cancer

September 30th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Mayo Clinic Health Letter: Highlights from the September 2014 Issue

By Brian Kilen

ROCHESTER, Minn. ― Here are highlights from the September issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter. You may cite this publication as often as you wish. Reprinting is allowed for a fee. Mayo Clinic Health Letter attribution is required. Include the following subscription information as your editorial policies permit: Visit or call toll-free for subscription information, 1-800-333-9037, extension 9771. Full newsletter text: Mayo Clinic Health Letter September 2014 (for journalists only).

Medical staff in operating room performing surgeryAfter celebrating, survivors often face anxieties and fear

Adjusting from being a cancer patient to a cancer survivor isn't just about celebration and gratitude. The September issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter covers why this transition isn’t always smooth or easy. In addition to dealing with fatigue or other side effects of surgery or treatment, patients may be surprised by feelings that can include fear and uncertainty, anxiety, sadness and irritability.

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Tags: Anxiety, cancer, Mayo Clinic Health Letter, Minnesota news release, News Release, sleep apnea, Smoking, stress, Surgery

June 26th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Mayo Clinic Recommends New Routine Testing for some Non-Hodgkin Lymphomas

By Sam Smith

ROCHESTER, Minn. — A Mayo Clinic-led group of researchers has discovered three subgroups of a single type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that have markedly different survival rates. These subgroups could not be differentiated by routine pathology but only with the aid of novel genetic tests, which the research team recommends giving to all patients with ALK-negative anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALCL). Findings are published in the journal Blood.

Journalists: Sound bites with Dr. Feldman are available in the downloads.

Patients whose lymphomas had TP63 rearrangements had only a 17 percent chance of living five years beyond diagnosis, compared to 90 percent of patients whose tumors had DUSP22 rearrangements. A third group of tumors, those with neither rearrangement, was associated with an intermediate survival rate. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Andrew Feldman, Biomarker Discovery Program, Center for Individualized Medicine, fish, Genetics, Genomics, Individualized Medicine, Minnesota news release, News Release, personalized medicine

June 22nd, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Twitter Chats Connect Medical Experts

By Dennis Douda

Twitter boasts hundreds of millions of subscribers. So, why wouldn't doctors with important news to share about treatment see if they could get the word out with a few well-worded tweets? Take a discussion recently on immunotherapy and ways medicine can work with our immune systems to fight cancer. Here's Dennis Douda with the Mayo Clinic News Network.

Journalists: The video package is available in the downloads.

To read the video script, click here.

Mayo Clinic regularly participates in Twitter chats on a wide variety of medical interests and specialties. In addition, other social media platforms are used daily to share news about health care and research, including Facebook, Pinterest and Google +.

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Tags: cancer, Dr Block, Dr Diane Jelinek, Dr Jelinek, Dr Markovic, Dr Matthew Block, Dr Svetomir Markovic, Hematology, HL, immunology, immunotherapy, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, oncology, Research

June 12th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Mayo Clinic Researchers Discover New Form of Cancer

By Bob Nellis

Potentially disfiguring facial tumor caused by chromosomal chimera

ROCHESTER, Minn. — This is the story of two perfectly harmless genes. By themselves, PAX3 and MAML3 don’t cause any problems. However, when they combine during an abnormal but recurring chromosomal mismatch, they can be dangerous. The result is a chimera — a gene that is half of each — and that causes biphenotypic sinonasal sarcoma. The tumor usually begins in the nose and may infiltrate the rest of the face, requiring disfiguring surgery to save the individual. Because Mayo Clinic pathology researchers have now described the molecular makeup of the rare tumor, several existing cancer drugs may be targeted against it. The findings appear in the current issue of Nature Genetics.

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Tags: Andre Oliveira, cancer, chromosomal chimera, fusion gene, Head and Neck Cancer, Jean Lewis, MAML3, Mayo Clinic, Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Nature Genetics, News Release, pathology, PAX3, rearrangement, Research, Rochester news release, sarcoma, sinonasal, translocation