San Antonio breast cancer conference highlights
Following her trip to the 33rd Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) in December 2010, BCAC committee member Rowena Mortimer is convinced of the value of the associated advocacy programme.
Rowena was particularly struck by just how much research is currently underway to investigate many aspects of breast cancer and she gained a real appreciation for just how much she didn’t know! For this reason she believes the advocacy programme offered at the Symposium for attendees from around the world and run by the Alamo Breast Cancer foundation, is an invaluable way of upskilling.
The advocates are brought together with doctors and researchers to discuss the latest information on breast cancer research and clinical trials, and any questions the advocates may have. The advocates can then share what they learn with their local organisations.
And the latest research doesn’t always deliver the answers expected. For example, the reporting from the Azure trial was greatly anticipated as a previous trial had indicated a 32% risk reduction in disease-free survival events when zolendronic acid (a bisphosphonate) was combined with standard treatment for stage two and three patients. Final results are still to be released but the conclusion to date is that using zolendronic acid made no difference to survival in the study’s overall population. However, there does appear to be some benefit in a low estrogen environment, i.e. in older women who have been postmenopausal for more than five years.
Another study comparing the effectiveness of different aromatase inhibitors (AIs) showed little difference between them. AIs are designed to stop the production of estrogen in postmenopausal women which means less estrogen is available to stimulate the growth of hormonereceptorpostive
breast cancer cells. It’s important to note that even when results offer unexpected or negative conclusions the body of knowledge is still greater than before.
Further sessions Rowena attended confirmed previous research; a general session demonstrated that obesity indicates poorer disease free survival and overall survival. Similarly, an excellent discussion about exercise highlighted several observational studies which indicate that exercise improves outcomes; for example lymphoedema occurs less with weight training and increased upper body strength reduces the side effects of treatment and surgery.
SABCS offers a fantastic opportunity for advocates from all over the world to network and share information. If you are interested in attending, the Alamo
Breast Cancer Foundation offers advocates from all countries scholarships to attend SABCS.
More information can be viewed at http://www.alamobreastcancer.org/.