7 On Call: Medical trifecta

Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg
March 25, 2008 4:44:14 PM PDT
In medical news, there is a new study about premature babies. There's also an amazing new surgery, as well as more ties between hormone therapy and breast cancer. Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg.

First, there is a new study linking hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer. The study was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

All of the women in the study were breast cancer survivors. Half received hormone replacement therapy (HRT) of estrogen plus progestin to treat their menopausal symptoms, and the other half formed the control group.

Two years later, researchers found that breast cancer survivors who took the hormone combinations were twice as likely to have a relapse and have their breast cancer recur than those who didn't take hormones.

The results suggest combination HRT for breast cancer survivors is unwise. Women at low risk of breast cancer are advised to use hormones only when absolutely necessary and at the lowest dose for the shortest amount of time.

Meanwhile, a surgery for a cancerous tumor labeled inoperable has amazed both doctors and patients.

Brooke Zepp was told nothing could be done for her golf ball-sized tumor because it was too deep in her abdomen.

But she found surgeons who removed six organs - her stomach, pancreas, spleen, liver and large and small intestines, to get to the tumor and remove it.

"This is definitely one of the most difficult surgeries we've ever done," said Dr. Tom Kato, lead surgeon at University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Zepp has since left the hospital.

Finally, a new report says health risks persist for some premature babies, especially those who are born extremely early.

"Boys and girls born at extremely premature range, which we consider 22 to 27 weeks, had a much higher chance of mortality somewhere on the level of 9 or 10 times higher," said Dr. Geeta Swamy, of Duke University Medical Center.

Researchers analyzed data from thousands of premature births and saw another unusual pattern.

As adults, premature babies, particularly men, were less likely to reproduce.

The reason for the reproduction pattern is unclear, but researcher feel congenital problems may contribute to the increased risk of death. Experts also stress that more studies are needed to prevent premature births form occurring.