Breast cancer research in 2010 and the Breast Cancer Deadline 2020

CURE invited Laura Nikolaides, director of research & quality care programs at the National Breast Cancer Coalition, to share her thoughts on the 2010 meeting of the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium and NBCC's Breast Cancer Deadline 2020.

One year I want to return home from the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) with great news for my daughter Kira, who is 11. I want to tell her that there were big new discoveries, and she won't need to worry about having breast cancer or going through the harsh treatments that her mom did.

But leaving this year's meeting, the 33rd, I think about what I can tell her. We may have some new combinations of drug treatment or some new schedules that are just as good as the old ones or maybe a little better. We found out that several drugs don't work like we thought they would. We may have some new options for treatment that will be less toxic. But I cannot tell her that we are any closer to knowing how to avoid the disease or how to make sure no woman will die of the disease.

If we meet the National Breast Cancer Coalition's Breast Cancer Deadline 2020, I will be able to deliver that news to Kira, just before her 21st birthday.

Ending breast cancer is not a new idea for NBCC. It has been our mission since 1991. But despite scientific progress, greater knowledge of the biology of breast cancer, great strides in many areas of technology and movement toward targeted, less toxic treatments, we are falling short in significantly reducing morbidity and mortality from the disease.

To harness the significant discoveries that have already been made, to shift the focus of resources, institutions and scientists to the work that will lead to ending this disease and to bring back a sense of urgency, NBCC has declared a deadline for ending the disease – January 1, 2020. We know that setting a deadline alone won't end breast cancer, but we believe a change in focus will. Business as usual is not working. A deadline will help us all reset the course.

To meet our deadline, NBCC advocates believe that efforts must be focused on learning how to prevent the disease and learning how to prevent or stop metastasis. How relevant was the research presented at this year's SABCS? Not so good on the first aspect, learning how to prevent the disease, a little better on the second. There was acknowledgement of the need to understand tumor dormancy and metastasis to significantly reduce mortality, but unfortunately, not a lot of answers yet.

The symposium was dominated, as it is each year, by sessions on variations in drug regimens and sessions on finding new drug targets to prevent cancer growth. But we've been following this approach for many years and gaining only incremental progress. We welcome any discussion and research on possible new approaches.

Talk about this article with other patients, caregivers, and advocates in the General Discussions CURE discussion group.
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