The impact of molecular and genomic advancements on the treatment of patients with breast cancer will be among the prime topics of discussion.
Daniel A. Osman, MD
The impact of molecular and genomic advancements on the treatment of patients with breast cancer will be among the prime topics of discussion this week at the 29th Annual Miami Breast Cancer Conference in Florida.
The conference, which opened today at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, will feature presentations on emerging molecular targeted therapies as well as the implications of genomic profiling in clinical practice and drug development.
Daniel A. Osman, MD, the pioneering breast cancer surgeon who launched the conference and remains its program director, believes the treatment of breast cancer likely is entering a new phase that will involve “less treatment and more regard for quality of life and cost containment.”
“With the thought that perhaps ‘biology trumps anatomy,’ it is reasonable to consider re-evaluating some old concepts,” Osman said in written introductory remarks to conference attendees.
He cited three specific areas: local management, where molecular studies may help differentiate indolent from aggressive ductal carcinoma in situ; regional nodal management, where studies of the primary tumor may help determine the need for adjuvant therapy; and primary systemic therapy, where predictive biomarkers hold the promise of guiding the selection of patients for targeted therapies.
Osman said in an interview that management of patients with breast cancer has made rapid strides since the Human Genome Project was completed in 2001. He noted the profound impact that such discoveries as the HER2/neu gene and the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have had in diagnosing and treating patients with breast cancer, particularly in early stages.
Nevertheless, he said, such advances have not yielded the clear-cut answers that many initially expected, and the treatment of patients exhibiting given mutations continues to be a subject of debate among oncologists.
“Molecular biology is still in its infancy,” Osman said. “It’s up to us to figure out how personalized medicine fits into our practice.”
The 29th Miami Breast Cancer Conference continues through Saturday, March 17.