‘Oncogene-mediated signal transduction’… ‘tumor educated
macrophages’… ‘mammary stroma and tumorigenesis’…. While most of us don’t usually
chat about these topics at the water cooler, we’re very lucky that some of the
smartest minds in the world do love to talk about them, and talk they did at
the second annual ‘Weekend to End Breast Cancer’ International Symposium this
These complex subjects are important because they are moving
us ever closer to a clear understanding of breast cancer, and how it can be
treated and ultimately eradicated.
“If we are going to conquer breast cancer, it is critical
that the people doing the research both in the lab and in the clinic meet
regularly and update one another on their findings,” said Dr. Tak Mak, Director
of the Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research at Princess Margaret Hospital,
and the organizer for this year’s event.
“We are very pleased that the Advisory Committee for the
Weekend to End Breast Cancer is providing funding for this important exchange
of information in the breast cancer research community,” continues Mak.
Twenty-nine presenters from all over North America, as well
as the U.K. presented findings from their latest research to a full auditorium
of scientists, medical oncologists and professors who devote their working
lives (probably sleep time too!) to figuring out how to prevent or cure breast
| ||Dr. Tak Mak speaks at the Weekend to End Breast Cancer International Symposium|
Dr. Dennis Slamon provided the keynote address entitled “Molecular Diversity of Human Breast
Cancer: Clinical and Therapeutic Implications” where he shared his
findings that some powerful chemotherapy drugs have no effect on certain types
of breast cancer patients (HER2-negative).
This finding is important because doctors naturally do not want to
subject women to potentially toxic drugs when there is no benefit.
When asked if the findings shared at the Symposium could
allow women facing a risk of breast cancer to be more optimistic than 2 or 3
years ago, presenters interviewed felt they could. They cited the ability to tailor or
personalize the treatment as one of the areas of good progress.
This reflects the growing understanding that breast cancer
is not really one disease, but several different types. Clinicians can now move beyond ‘one size fits
all’ treatment and develop personalized treatment programs depending on the
type of breast cancer.