The San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium is the largest breast cancer research conference in the world, with attendees from over 100 countries, where the newest study results and research is often announced. We report back from San Antonio from a patient advocate perspective, challenging the status quo and pushing researchers and clinicians to do better for women at risk of and living with breast cancer. Below you can read Karuna Jaggar’s reports from the 2012 conference in case you missed any.
Arguably the clearest practice changing standard to emerge from the 2012 SABCS conference is the long-anticipated data supporting shortening the duration of radiation therapy after surgery. The results of the START trial were discussed by the British Dr. Yarnold during the General Session on Thursday and again at the morning Plenary Lecture on Friday. Already the UK has adjusted their standard of care based on this data. Read more.
Advocates have been calling out for many years for studies of non-toxic and complementary therapies. Ann Fonfa, founder of the Annie Appleseed Project made several public pleas at this year’s conference. The closest thing we saw this year was the AZURE trial, which, although not the primary focus of the study, found that Vitamin D levels were correlated with relapse of early breast cancer. Read more.
We know that women of color are more likely to die of breast cancer and cancer deaths are declining fastest among white women. Non-white women often have more aggressive cancers that are harder to treat, coupled with fewer social and economic resources. With the complexity of the issues regarding inequities in breast cancer, we hope next year we’ll see many more posters on this topic, including ones that go well beyond the focus of breast reconstruction. These studies are needed to add to our understanding of the many issues of huge importance in this area. Read more.
Sentinel node biopsy—a procedure in which the sentinel lymph node is identified, removed, and examined to determine whether cancer cells are present—has been the preferred technique for a number of years, since around 2007. At this year’s symposium, Dr. Dalliah Black presented data doing a retrospective analysis of the SEER/Medicare database studying over 31,000 women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer between 2002 and 2007 who did not have lymph node involvement and underwent a documented axillary surgical procedure. Read more.
With not enough progress on breast cancer, patients and doctors alike are eager for the next best thing. At SABCS 2012 there was a lot of trumpeting that the next best thing is here! It involves Tamoxifen. And although we’re as ready as anyone for a breakthrough, we know from experience we have to look beyond the headlines for the real story on “groundbreaking” breast cancer news. Read more.