Investigating Breast Cancer

Investigating Breast Cancer

Official podcast of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation

Episodes

October 14, 2021 36 min

While academic and medical research has led to incredible breakthroughs in breast cancer care—including new treatments and screening methods—these advances have not reached every patient in every corner of the globe. With breast cancer now the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the world, it’s critical that lifesaving advances are deployed more equitably and universally—especially to women and men in lower-income and -resource count...

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How can genetic testing data encourage prevention and agency without amplifying personal fear? What can research reveal about genetic markers of risk and predisposition? Or, put differently, how can understanding one’s inherited risk improve approaches to precision prevention?

Dr. Ephrat Levy-Lahad is on the forefront of this research, focusing on breast cancer–associated genetic mutations among various populations, including Arab...

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While breast cancer is not typically caused by inherited factors, as many as 10-15 percent of people diagnosed with breast cancer carry a known genetic mutation. The most well-known mutations are in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. But these only account for 5-10 percent of inherited breast cancers, so what about the many other gene mutations that increase a person’s risk of breast cancer? Also, what does this mean not only for genetic t...

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There are many challenges in managing breast cancer. Top among them is the fact that initial breast conserving surgeries often miss vestiges of a patient’s tumor. In fact, up to 40 percent of women require another procedure following lumpectomy. Not only can additional surgery, of course, increase a patient’s anxiety and be physically taxing, but it can cause delays in critical subsequent treatments like chemotherapy and radiation.

...

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How do you measure quality of life? As researchers across fields discover new drug therapies or disease prevention—in breast cancer as well as other fields—science finds innumerable ways to measure physical results. But what about the social, behavioral, and psychological aspects of cancer care? And how should medical providers discuss such realties with patients?

This is just one area of extraordinary impact that Professor Dame L...

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For so many breast cancer patients, radiation therapy can bring extraordinary benefits—top among them improved survival rates and reduced recurrence. But there are also challenges and questions: Why do some people experience a recurrence after treatment? How can we reduce side effects? How can we ensure the right patients receive radiation therapy—and that the treatment works as well as possible?

These are among the many medical m...

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Women with breast cancer who are overweight or obese experience inferior outcomes compared to those with normal weight despite receiving optimal therapies. Dr. Vered Stearns discusses researching ways to reduce breast cancer recurrence through effective weight-loss interventions and why we need to bring more discoveries from the lab to the clinic. Dr. Stearns is a member of the BCRF Scientific Advisory Board and has been a BCRF Inv...

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December 10, 2020 46 min

Each October, BCRF-funded investigators are honored at the Foundation’s Symposium & Awards Luncheon in New York City. This year, the program was held virtually, without the lunch—but with all of the important conversations and ideas.

The annual event announces the Foundation’s grant investment for the coming year and recognizes BCRF investigators for their trailblazing scientific inquiry. This year’s program included an extrao...

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Women of African descent are more likely to be diagnosed with aggressive breast cancers than white women and are more likely to die from their disease regardless of its type or stage. For those living in remote or low-resource areas, limited access to screening and genetic testing make improving outcomes even more challenging.

In this episode of our podcast, Dr. Funmi Olopade, talks about her work in Africa and Chicago, the critic...

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The immune system plays a critical role in tumor growth by attacking cancer cells with white blood cells. Cancer cells that survive this immune attack can become invasive and metastatic (a process called immune escape). In this episode of Investigating Breast Cancer, Dr. Kornelia Polyak shares the impact of understanding breast cancer at a molecular level. Dr. Polyak, a BCRF investigator since 2008, is an internationally recognized...

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While genetic testing and counseling for breast cancer has been available in the U.S. for many years, accessing these services in Mexico and the rest of Latin America is more challenging due to limited resources. Leading genetics researcher and oncologist, Dr. Jeffrey Weitzel, has devoted his career to decreasing these barriers. Dr. Weitzel, a BCRF investigator since 2013, is director of the Clinical Cancer Genetics Program and pro...

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Research shows that when chemotherapy is delayed, a patient’s chance of survival falls significantly. Dr. Mariana Chavez MacGregor, a BCRF investigator since 2018, joined our podcast to talk about her work with underserved and underinsured patients—those who are most likely to experience delays—to develop personalized ways to improve healthcare access and, ultimately, outcomes.

Dr. MacGregor is an associate professor at the Univer...

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One key goal in developing precision vaccines and immune therapies is to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence. Yet currently, there is only one FDA-approved immunotherapy drug for breast cancer, and it benefits just a small subset of women.

In this episode of Investigating Breast Cancer, we talk with Dr. Karen Anderson about vaccines, harnessing the power of a person’s immune system, and reducing the risk of breast cancer r...

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Advances in cancer therapy have dramatically contributed to the decline in breast cancer deaths over the last three decades. But even with these advances, drug resistance—when tumors stop responding to anti-cancer drugs—remains a serious clinical challenge. Dr. Sarat Chandarlapaty talks about the strategies to prevent cancer cells from evading the drugs designed to kill them. 

Dr. Chandarlapaty is a laboratory head at the Human On...

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 In the fight to understand and solve breast cancer, “it takes a village.” In this case, the village is more like a globally connected series of research labs, scientists, patients, funders and more. In other words, something that looks a lot like the Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium (TBCRC). The TBCRC is a collaborative group founded in 2005 to conduct innovative and high-impact clinical trials for breast cancer led...

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Breast cancer—and any cancer—can be incredibly stressful under the best of circumstances for patients, survivors, and their families. In this time of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), concerns can feel like they’re rising exponentially. So, what do we all need to know? With tons of new information bombarding us at once, what should cancer patients and families consider? Are there practical tactics or is there tangible guidance to s...

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Dr. Mark Robson talks about how he’s working to help identify the right tests for the right person at the right age

How can researchers provide more precise risk estimates so that individuals with inherited risks can make informed decisions about their health, so that the right women are getting the right tests at the right age? Dr. Robson is conducting studies that employ advanced technologies that incorporate information from ge...

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Dr. Martine Piccart talks to us about the power of collaboration in metastatic breast cancer research

Metastasis, the spread of cancer cells from the breast to other sites in the body, is responsible for nearly all breast cancer deaths. Approximately 150,000 men and women are diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer each year. Today, BCRF is the largest private funder of this critical area of research.

Dr. Martine Piccart is passi...

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For young women, a breast cancer diagnosis presents a unique set of challenges not only due to age, but the biology of the disease as well. While a diagnosis under the age of 40 is rare, the disease tends to behave more aggressively. Compared to older breast cancer patients, young women treated for the disease tend to have an increased risk of experiencing emotional distress, treatment-induced sexual dysfunction, and concerns about...
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Every October, BCRF-funded researchers are honored at the annual Symposium & Awards Luncheon in New York City. This is when BCRF makes its formal announcement of research grants for the upcoming year and recognizes its investigators for their devotion to ending breast cancer with their trailblazing scientific inquiry. The event provides a unique opportunity for BCRF researchers to convene, share ideas and collaborate with fello...

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