Breast cancer in women: Therapeutic perspectives from a translational perspective

The future lies in precision medicine

On the kick-off day of the 10th International Charité Mayo Conference, a high-calibre international group of medical professionals gathered in Berlin to discuss the hottest topics in gynaecological oncology. The keynote lecture was held on Wednesday by Adrian Lee from Pittsburgh, USA, who has a key role in the design of precision medicine.

On the kick-off day of the 10th International Charité Mayo Conference, taking place between 3rd- 6th April 2019 in Berlin, a high-calibre, international community from science and practice gathered in the Langenbeck-Virchow-Haus in Berlin to discuss the hottest topics in gynaecological oncology. More than 700 participants from all over the world are expected to attend the conference. The programme includes more than 12 hours of lectures, debates and workshops, as well as in-depth discussions on the most groundbreaking current research.

The keynote lecture on Wednesday was given by Adrian Lee from Pittsburgh, USA, who has been researching breast cancer in women for over 20 years and plays a key role in shaping precision medicine. Accordingly, he gave an outline and overview of breast cancer in women from his scientifically oriented, translational perspective.

Right at the beginning of his lecture, Lee emphasised that the importance of tissue banks could not be overestimated. The aim here is not only to collect tissue samples, but also to provide information on the patient and the specific course of the disease in order to obtain material that can be systematically analysed. Thanks to intensive research, Lee continued, the mortality rates of breast cancer patients have fallen drastically since the 1990s: "Thanks to better screening, diagnostics and therapy, between 20 and 30 percent fewer women die of cancer today.

The big challenge is relapses

Breast cancer differs from other cancers in that the recurrence rate does not decrease after the first five years, but remains almost constant. The great challenge in breast cancer research is therefore the late recurrence. The data over the last twenty years, which can be traced back further by the higher number of survivors, shows that most deaths do not occur in the first five years after the onset of the cancer, but between five and twenty years afterwards. It can be assumed that the number of deaths here is up to four times higher than in the first five years.

According to Lee, the big problem in cancer therapy is the fact that the tumor is not a static entity, but is continuously changing and adapting to the therapy. Gene mutations are common. Gene sequencing shows that multiple mutations can occur in a tumor, which in turn attack other targets. This heterogeneity requires precision medicine at the genome level, because it makes it possible to understand the evolutionary history of a specific cancer disease and to pave the way for new therapies.

Source: Adrian Lee: Outlook in the therapy of Breast Cancer from a Translational Scientist's Point of VIew, Keynote Lecture 10th International Charité Mayo Conference Berlin, 03.04.2019

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