Every year, some of the world’s leading experts on breast cancer gather for the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS). One of the premier forums on the subject, SABCS offers physicians and allied health professionals an environment conducive to the exchange of ideas and discussion around current trends in breast cancer research.
This is an excellent opportunity to meet with others passionate about breast health care, as well as to learn about new ways we can help patients. At this year’s SABCS, I am excited to learn more about the results of a trial investigating the use of radiation therapy, new markers for identifying cancer in the blood, advances in genetic testing research, and several other presentations.
Who can avoid breast cancer radiation therapy?
In one presentation, researchers associated with the Selective Use of Postoperative Radiotherapy after Mastectomy (SUPREMO) Trial will help to answer an important question. Which patients can safely avoid breast cancer radiation therapy following breast conserving strategy?
Earlier results to the SUPREMO Trial suggested an individualized approach to post-operative treatment could help some patients avoid breast cancer radiation therapy. New results to the ongoing trial presented at SABCS could reveal new insights about ways that physicians can more safely triage patients for different treatments after their breast conserving surgery.
Determining cancer risk for genetic mutation carriers
Researchers have now identified more than a dozen genetic mutations linked to increased risk for developing breast cancer. These include BRCA1, BRCA2, PALB2 and RAD51C. Not all patients who are a carrier of these genetic mutations will develop breast cancer, which can make it difficult to determine an appropriate preventive strategy.
This year at SABCS, we will hear more about newer genetic mutations and risk management for patients. We will also learn more about the use of a translational computer program tool called the Breast and Ovarian Analysis of Disease Incidence and Carrier Estimation Algorithm (BOADICEA), which has resulted in a practical tool for clinicians working with breast cancer patients.
Diet intervention and breast cancer survival
Our knowledge of the relationship between breast cancer and nutrition is constantly growing. Researchers and physicians know that diet can play a heavy role in a woman’s risk for developing breast cancer, as well as in the recovery process.
This year at SABCS, researchers involved with the Women’s Intervention Nutrition Study will present 15-year follow-up data. This should reveal new information about the long-term benefits of a reduced fat diet in breast cancer survivors.
In year’s past, the SABCS has proven to be an enlightening and thought-provoking experience. Being around so many talented and passionate physicians, patients and advocates is both humbling and encouraging. I am excited to return to SABCS for my third year, as well as to come back to Breastlink with new knowledge that can help our patients.