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What’s on the horizon regarding breast cancer treatment?

Medical providers at academic medical centers regularly attend lectures by experts

Preventing breast cancer recurrence and preserving the breast after surgery were topics addressed recently in two research lectures at Upstate sponsored by the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund of CNY.

Breast cancer can recur in up to 30 percent of women, even 20 years after treatment, says Lewis Chodosh, MD, PhD, professor of cancer biology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Chodosh‘s research has focused on detecting and attacking dormant cancer cells before they can reactivate. He hopes an antimalarial drug, now being tested, could neutralize these sleeper cells.

“The dormancy window is a unique and valuable window of vulnerability, before patients actually relapse,” he said.

Breast conservation was the theme of a second talk, delivered by surgeon Dennis Holmes, MD, the interim director of the Margie Petersen Breast Cancer Center in Santa Monica, Calif.

Holmes spoke about surgical innovations, not universally accepted, that he hopes will be less invasive, reduce the total radiation needed and lead to a better self-image and quality of life after surgery.

These methods could include:

  • intraoperative radiotherapy, or radiation beamed during a partial mastectomy operation.

  • oncoplastic surgery, or cancer surgery done with breast preservation in mind.

  • and cryoablation, or use of a freezing probe inserted into a tumor to kill cancer cells/

This article appears in the winter 2018 issue of Cancer Care magazine.