Symposium on metastatic breast cancer brought first of its kind knowledge and support to area patients, health providers

Thursday, May 11, 2017

‘Living Well with Breast Cancer and Beyond’ aimed at under-served segment of breast-cancer patients

Susan G. Komen NEPA and Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine together brought information and awareness to local patients facing a metastatic breast cancer (MBC) diagnosis and to the healthcare providers who care for them. According to organizers of the April 29 event — including two local women coping with MBC — people with stage IV breast cancer are an often-overlooked patient group. People diagnosed with MBC have specific needs typically not addressed by the many events geared toward an early-stage diagnosis, where the emphasis is placed upon overcoming the disease.

Living Well with Breast Cancer and Beyond provided patients diagnosed with stage IV (metastatic) breast cancer (MBC) information on current research and clinical trials with lectures by several nationally known researchers, including two Komen scholars. Komen Scholars are a group of 60 distinguished scholars and leaders in breast cancer research and advocacy. The scholars who attended the symposium were Adrian Lee, PhD, from the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and David A. Mankoff, MD, PhD from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. One goal of Dr. Lee’s lab is to identify novel changes in metastatic cells that may offer therapeutic insight. He will discuss the present gaps in MBC research. Dr. Mankoff’s research focuses on new imaging techniques that he believes have the ability to improve progression-free survival and quality of life.

Other speakers included Michael Murray, MD and Craig Piso, PhD Dr. Murray is director of Geisinger’s clinical genomics and the MyCode data project. He discussed how genomics is changing the detection and treatment of cancer. Dr. Piso is a psychologist whose presentation was entitled, “Finding Courage and Strength During Life’s Biggest Challenges.”

The symposium was well attended and, based upon attendee feedback, Geisinger Commonwealth and Susan G. Komen NEPA plan to present the symposium again in 2018.

Gathering at the Living Well with Breast Cancer and Beyond symposium were, first row, from left: Jane Kanyock, director of corporate & foundation relations, Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine (Geisinger Commonwealth); breast-cancer survivor and community volunteer, Suzanne O’Hara; Julie Sidoni, WNEP, panel discussion moderator; and Marian Farrell, Ph.D., mission chair, Susan G. Komen NEPA. Second row, from left are Ashley Labdik, second-year medical student, Geisinger Commonwealth; Nicole Klein, second-year medical student, Geisinger Commonwealth; Pamela Lucchesi, PhD, FAHA, professor of physiology, Geisinger Commonwealth and Dolly Woody, executive director, Susan G. Komen NEPA. Last row: Michael Murray, MD, director of Geisinger’s clinical genomics and the MyCode data project; Adrian Lee, PhD, Komen Scholar from the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute; David A. Mankoff, MD, PhD Komen Scholar from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania; and Craig Piso, PhD, Piso & Associates LLC.

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