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BCRF Grantee Since

2008

Donor Recognition

The ANN INC. Award

Area(s) of Focus

Dawn Hershman, MD, MS

Associate Professor of Medicine
Division of Medical Oncology
Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
New York, New York

Current Research

More than two million women living in the United States today are breast cancer survivors. Current cancer therapies have resulted in improved survival for many cancer patients, but long-term cancer survivors often experience health problems that may be treatment-related. Dr. Hershman is conducting several projects with her BCRF grant. The first is a new study evaluating the potential mechanisms for the development of peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) using samples collected on a large randomized cooperative group clinical trial. For this study 420 patients were accrued. Dr. Hershman’s team has collected two samples on each patient that have been sent to them and were run for carnitine levels. Carnitine increased in the active arm and did not in the placebo. Adjusting for carnitine level strengthened the negative association between acetyl L Carnitine and CIPN. The researchers’ next step is to run the serum for metabolomics studies.

The second study is a continuation of a randomized, sham-controlled trial of weekly acupuncture for the prevention of taxane-induced neuropathy. The primary objective of this study is to determine if electro-acupuncture prevents symptoms of myalgias/parasthesias in patients treated with adjuvant taxanes for breast cancer. To date, 44 of 50 patients have been randomized to true/sham acupuncture. The third is evaluating a new imaging modality that uses changes in optics to detect if tumors are responding to therapy. So far 25 of 40 patients have been accrued to the study and these results will be submitted to the San Antonio Breast Conference. A manuscript is in preparation.

Mid-Year Summary

More than 2 million women living in the US today are breast cancer survivors. Current cancer therapies have resulted in improved survival for many cancer patients, but long-term cancer survivors often experience health problems that may be treatment-related. Dr. Hershman is leading three projects in this BCRF grant. The first is a continuation of a randomized, sham-controlled trial of weekly acupuncture for the prevention of taxane-induced neuropathy (CIPN). The primary objective of this study is to determine if electro-acupuncture prevents symptoms of myalgias/parasthesias in patients treated with adjuvant taxanes for breast cancer. To date, 52 patients have been randomized to true/sham acupuncture. The second is evaluating a new imaging modality that uses changes in optics to detect if tumors are responding to therapy. So far 28 of 40 patients have been accrued to the study. A strong and significant correlation between change in the blood flow at 2-weeks and residual disease has been observed. The third project is a new study looking at topical menthol for the treatment of peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). This study has just started to accrue. Changes are being made to the protocol to increase patient eligibility.

Bio

Dr. Dawn Hershman is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology and the program leader for the Breast Cancer Program of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University. She was appointed to a faculty position at Columbia University in 2001, and since that time has developed expertise in the areas of breast cancer survivorship, late-effects of cancer therapy, health outcomes, health disparities research, and cancer clinical trials.

She has published over 150 scientific articles and has received numerous awards including the Ewig Award for Teaching Excellence, the AVON Foundation Medical Advancement Award and the American Society of Clinical Oncology Advanced Clinical Research Award. She has national leadership positions in the Southwest Oncology Group and the American Society of Clinical Oncology. In addition to her support from BCRF, she has received grant funding from the National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, Department of Defense, and others. She has served as primary mentor for numerous medical students, graduate students, fellows and junior faculty.