You are here

BCRF Grantee Since

2007

Donor Recognition

The Housewares Charity Foundation Award

Area(s) of Focus

Nadine M. Tung, MD

Director, Cancer Risk and Prevention Program
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Associate Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School
Boston, Massachusetts

Current Research

Co-Investigator: Stuart Schnitt, MD, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston

Breast cancer that develops in women with inherited mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes comprises approximately 5% of all breast cancer and 10% of breast cancer in Ashkenazi Jewish women. Previous data suggest that women with BRCA1 mutations preferentially develop triple negative breast cancer, and a subset of women with triple negative disease without BRCA mutations would also have DNA-repair-deficient triple negative breast cancer.

Also, recent findings have raised the question whether it is more effective to treat breast cancers that develop in women with inherited BRCA1/2 mutations with cisplatin, a chemotherapy agent that does not have an extensive track record in breast cancer, rather than with standard chemotherapy (e.g., doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide, “AC”). There is reason to believe that cisplatin might be more effective since it creates breaks in the genetic material of cells, which breast cancers deficient in BRCA proteins cannot repair. Yet, data regarding the responsiveness of the breast cancers in this population to these two chemotherapy regimens is extremely limited. The aim of this project is to compare the relative effectiveness of cisplatin and standard “AC” chemotherapy in women with inherited BRCA mutations and early stage breast cancer. BRCA mutation carriers will be randomized to receive one of these two chemotherapy regimens prior to the excision of their breast cancer; response of the breast cancer to the chemotherapy will be assessed at the time of surgery. This trial, the INFORM: BRCA1/2 trial, will be conducted at Dana-Farber Harvard Cancer Center (Drs Nadine Tung, Judy Garber and Stuart Schnitt) in collaboration with several other BCRF-funded investigators at academic medical centers across the US.

Mid-Year Summary

The aim of this project is to compare the relative effectiveness of cisplatin and standard chemotherapy (e.g., doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide, “AC”) in women with inherited BRCA mutations and early stage breast cancer. Recent data raised the question whether it is more effective to treat breast cancers in this population with cisplatin, a chemotherapy agent not typically used to treat breast cancer. There is reason to believe that cisplatin might be more effective since it creates breaks in the genetic material of cells, which breast cancers deficient in BRCA proteins cannot repair. This trial is being conducted at Dana-Farber Harvard Cancer Center (Drs Nadine Tung, Judy Garber and Stuart Schnitt) in collaboration with several other BCRF-funded investigators. In the last six months, an additional ten patients have been enrolled and four additional academic centers have opened the trial (Yale, Cancer Institute of New Jersey, University of Colorado and Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island). Two additional sites should be activated imminently (Cedars Sinai, MD Anderson Cancer Center) with MSKCC and University of Pennsylvania expected to open for accrual in the near future.

Bio

Dr. Tung is the Director of the Cancer Risk Evaluation Program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She earned her undergraduate degree at Princeton University and attended Harvard Medical School. She completed her internship, residency and fellowship in hematology-oncology at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston before joining the staff in 1990 as an attending physician. Dr. Tung is an active member of the Dana Farber/ Harvard Cancer Center, an attending physician in medical oncology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Tung's research focuses on hereditary causes of breast cancer as well as effective strategies for breast cancer prevention and treatment. Much of her research has focused on women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, studying the genetic and environmental factors which influence cancer development, the biology and prognosis of the breast cancers they develop, and the optimal way to treat their cancers. Her research also focuses on identifying other hereditary breast cancer susceptibility genes.

Co-Investigators