The Boston Hot Pink Party
Scientific Advisory Committee Chairman Clifford Hudis, MD, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, moderated the panel discussion entitled, "Breast Cancer Is Not One Disease: Now What?" Dr. Hudis told the packed room that, rather than seeing the complexity of breast cancer as a roadblock, the fact that breast cancer is a set of many diseases presents an opportunity to develop specifically targeted treatments.
Dr. Joshua LaBaer (Harvard School of Medicine) described his group's high-tech efforts, which have resulted in a "library" of over 10,000 genes that are now being explored. Their goal is to develop a simple blood test to detect the many subtypes of breast cancer at its earliest stages.
Dr. Nadine Tung (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) noted that her BCRF grant supports work she is doing with Dr. Stuart Schnitt; it is focused on breast cancer in women who have inherited BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. In particular, they seek to identify the common threads that tie this relatively rare subtype (up to about 10% of women with breast cancer) to the much more common breast cancers in the general population that act like those that are BRCA1- and BRCA2-positive.
Dr. Nancy Lin (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute) described her group's efforts to find ways to counteract brain metastases, a particular problem in some subtypes of breast cancer such as those that are HER2-positive. They are leading a clinical trial that has recruited women across the U.S., to better predict which breast cancers are most likely to spread to the brain, and to develop new treatments.
Dr. Hyman Muss (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), has devoted his research to the study of breast cancer in older patients and noted that the average age of onset in the U.S. is 63 and is exploring the impact of age on all aspects of breast cancer care.