Breast cancer

FDA warns about robotic surgery for cancer

In this image, a surgeon in blue scrubs and wearing a white face mask looks to the right while using a machine during an operation.
Urological surgeon Vladimir Medvedev uses a Da Vinci robotic surgical system. Photo: Valery Matytsin/TASS/Getty Images

Researchers have long been skeptical about whether surgical robots lead to better clinical outcomes than traditional surgical techniques. And now the FDA wants to make sure more patients and surgeons are aware of the pitfalls.

What they're saying: Surgical robots have not been officially labeled as safe or effective "in mastectomy procedures or the prevention or treatment of cancer," the FDA wrote Thursday in a public safety notice.

New breast cancer gene analysis aims to boost precision medicine

Photo of a breast cancer survivor at a Komen walk surrounded by family members in pink
A breast cancer survivor and her family at a 2016 Komen Race for the Cure. Photo: Mindy Schauer/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images

In an effort to clear up uncertain breast cancer diagnoses involving mutations of a key gene, known as BRCA1, a team of scientists have used gene editing technology to create and analyze thousands of variations to help determine which are benign or not, per a new study published in Nature on Wednesday.

Why it matters: There's been a lot of research on BRCA1 gene mutations, which are associated with breast and ovarian cancers, but the threat posed by each variant is not always known. This leads to confusion for patients regarding if they should take serious prophylactic measures such as a double mastectomy and/or removal of ovaries to prevent cancer, as actress Angelina Jolie did when she found she had the mutation.