Dawn Hershman, MD, MS
Assistant Professor of Medicine
2012-2013 BCRF Project:
(made possible by generous support from ANN INC.)
Division of Medical Oncology
Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
New York, New York
More than two million women living in the United States today are breast cancer survivors. Because the number of women diagnosed with invasive and non-invasive breast cancer is increasing and the number of women who die each year from breast cancer has decreased, the number of breast cancer survivors is likely to increase. Current cancer therapies (surgery, chemotherapy, supportive care, biologics and radiotherapy) have resulted in improved survival for many cancer patients, but long-term cancer survivors often experience health problems that may be treatment-related. As cancer survival continues to improve, research is needed on how cancer treatment affects health, quality of life, and long-term follow-up care.
In 2012-2013, Dr. Hershman’s team will undertake several projects. The first is a continuation of a randomized, sham-controlled trial of weekly acupuncture for the prevention of taxane-induced myalgias and neuropathy; this study has accrued 50% of the anticipated 50 patients. The second study will evaluate a new imaging modality that uses changes in optics to detect if tumors are responding to therapy. The third will use samples from a supportive care trial of acetyl l carnitine for the prevention of peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) to determine genetic factors associated with CIPN.
These studies represent the comprehensive approach Dr. Hershman takes towards survivorship research. The goal of her survivorship program is to translate and integrate findings from our population-based research to patient-oriented interventional studies.
Mid-year Progress: In the continuation of Dr. Hershman's trial of weekly acupuncture for the prevention of neuropathy, 39 of 50 patients have been randomized to see if electro-acupuncture could help prevent symptoms of myalgias/parasthesias in breast cancer patients treated with adjuvant taxanes. Dr. Hershman's second project, which is assessing a new imaging modality that uses changes in optics to detect if tumors are responding to therapy, has accrued 21 of 40 patients. Preliminary results were presented at the 2012 San Antonio Breast Conference, and a manuscript is in preparation. The third study is evaluating the potential mechanisms for the development of peripheral neuropathy using samples collected on a large randomized cooperative group clinical trial. For this study, 420 patients have enrolled, and Dr. Hershman's team has two samples from each patient that are currently being run for metabolites and then will eventually be run for metabolomics studies.
Dr. Dawn Hershman is Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in the Division of Medical Oncology and has completed a Masters of Science in Biostatistics with an emphasis on patient oriented research, at the Mailman School of Public Health. She received her MD from The Albert Einstein College of Medicine, then trained in internal medicine at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center where she served as Chief Resident, then completed a fellowship in Medical Oncology/Hematology.
She is now the Co-Director of the Breast Program for the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center. She has an interest and expertise in the area of health outcomes research with a specific interest in supportive care, racial disparities in quality of care and breast cancer survivorship. She has developed a program to understand and prevent both short and long-term complications of cancer therapy. Using epidemiologic methods she has characterized factors that predict cardiac and bone-marrow toxicity. Using cross-sectional and prospective cohort study designs her team is working on a variety of projects to characterize taxane neuropathy, joint pain from aromatase inhibitors, needs and concerns of cancer survivors and cognitive changes associated with treatment.
Dr. Hershman has several ongoing and recently funded multicenter randomized trials to prevent treatment induced osteoporosis, joint pain and stiffness, neuropathy, and the prevention of second primary breast cancers. She is actively involved in survivorship research through the Southwest Oncology group, where she serves as co-chair for the Committee on Health Disparities and Outcomes Research. In addition to her grant from BCRF, she is also PI on grants from the American Cancer Society, Department of Defense, American Society of Clinical Oncology, National Cancer Institute, and the Susan G. Komen Foundation.