A year in reflection—excited about the 2013 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.
I love my job. As a breast cancer surgeon with Breastlink, I have many roles. I get to take care of patients, who, even if they don’t realize it, take care of me, too. They inspire me probably more than I can ever help them.
“It’s only cancer,” said one of my heroes, “at least I can go to a doctor and get it taken care of.” Or, “Chemo is okay. At least I can still work, a little,” said another one of my heroes. My patients often thank me, but really it is I who am quietly thanking them for their daily inspiration.
I joined Breastlink over a year ago and have been very fortunate with my choices. In addition to the love I share with my patients, I have the wonderful fortune of knowing my colleagues very well.
- Dr. John West, my senior associate, is one of the most passionate and dedicated surgeons I have ever known. His honesty, generosity and commitment are rare and I am very thankful for being able to work with him and know him.
- Dr. John Link, our senior medical oncologist, is brilliant. His way of practicing medicine and oncology is beyond our time. It will take another decade for most oncologists to be able to provide to patients what Dr. Link has been doing and giving to our patients for years.
- Dr. June Chen and my colleagues in radiology at Breastlink were right when they said I would get spoiled at Breastlink by the radiologists. Their accuracy, skill, availability and near-perfection have made my job easy.
My three plastic surgeons, and their near-instant availability, are also a blessing to both me and my cancer patients. With reconstruction surgeons by my side, I get to provide my patients with answers and options immediately, thus minimizing the anxiety one gets from having to wait a week for a consultation.
There are many other members of my work family at Breastlink who have made my job enjoyable, stimulating, and fruitful. To them all I am very thankful.
2013 SABCS Excitement
Right now, however, I am on a plane on my way to the 2013 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS). This is the other “side” of my job that I love. This is my chance to learn about the newest updates in clinical trials and basic science research presented to an international audience.
Last year, we heard about the ATLAS trial results and the benefits of 10 years of Tamoxifen therapy. The exciting results from intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) via the TARGIT-A trial results were presented.
We also learned that, indeed, for the majority of HER2-positive patients, one year of Herceptin therapy seems to be better than six months, while two years provided no additional benefit. I also learned why, at a cellular level, obesity and breast density can lead to risk of breast cancer incidence and recurrence. This immediately helped me guide my patients, both new and in follow-up, in their care and management.
This year at SABCS, I look forward to hearing about several new trials and updates.
- The neoadjuvant HER2-positive trials, NeoALTTO and TRIO-US B07, will tell us how lapatinib impacts recurrence, survival and pathologic complete response.
- I am eager to hear the results of the PRIME 2 trial from the UK which compares lumpectomy and adjuvant endocrine therapy with or without radiation for women age 65 and older.
- I want to know the results of the randomized trial out of India regarding surgery for women with metastatic breast cancer.
- I am interested to hear the results of the IBIS-II study of anastrazole for prevention of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
And I am looking forward to hearing the meta-analysis and review on how hormonal infertility treatments impact breast cancer incidence. There are many other presentations, poster sessions and panel discussions that I am looking forward to. I will be sure to bring this wealth of knowledge back to my colleagues, my patients and my community.
Overall, I have to say I am very lucky. It is unusual to have a private group of physicians all specialized with expertise in Breast Cancer, either via imaging and diagnostics, surgical oncology, medical oncology and reconstructive surgery, under the same roof, on the same team, taking care of the same patients.
More than this unique situation, however, we have a motivation to also be at the cutting edge of research. My presence at this conference, along with three of my colleagues, is evidence of that. This is the way medicine and cancer care should be practiced.
Stay tuned for the updates and highlights from the conference!