San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium Logo 2012The San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) is one of the most highly esteemed breast cancer conferences in the world. This is where the updates of the most influential breast cancer trials are reported, and where breakthrough discoveries in the science of breast cancer are described. The wealth of information shared at this five-day marathon conference is enormous. I only wish I had more time to digest it all. Our understanding of breast cancer biology and treatment is continually changing, which is why the SABCS is a critical venue for anyone involved in the care of breast cancer patients. I look forward to next year’s event as well.

TARGIT vs. Conventional Radiotherapy: 10 Years On

The preliminary survival data results for the Targeted Intraoperative Radiotherapy for Breast Cancer (TARGIT)-A trial are very promising. There was no difference in breast cancer related deaths between patients having breast radiotherapy treatment with the Intrabeam intraoperative radiotherapy delivery compared to standard whole breast radiotherapy (at five-year follow-up).

Intraoperative radiotherapy is an excellent, safe option for select breast cancer patients who are undergoing breast-conserving surgery. Patients can be spared weeks of additional treatment. Healthcare costs are also greatly reduced. Breastlink is dedicated to providing patients with these treatment benefits and is actively participating in further research development of these modalities.

Breast Density and Obesity

We now better understand the science and biology behind the increased risk of breast cancer related to breast density and obesity. Increased breast density seems to provide an environment that enhances vascular proliferation. This, in turn, can be used as a blood supply for tumor growth.

Similarly, obesity can lead to chronic cellular inflammation within the breast. This may lead to angiogenesis and possibly promote tumor development. Careful screening of patients with dense breasts is critical, as is counseling on the risk of obesity.

Molecular Profiling

Molecular profiling of tumors has become the standard of care for many breast cancer patients. Of greater interest now is gene profiling, which can be used to better understand tumor biology, cancer recurrence and targeted treatment. As a result of numerous studies using genetic analyses, we better understand the progression of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) to invasive cancer, the probability of recurrence of any cancer, and the likelihood of response to neoadjuvant therapy. These studies are currently ongoing and experimental. They may lead the way to a molecular era of breast cancer treatment.