BY Kristie L. Kahl
In line with its mission to provide cancer updates, research, and education, CURE Media Group is hosting its first ever patient-focused meeting at the 36th Annual Miami Breast Cancer Conference®.
“We are excited to host a patient-focused track for the first time at this year’s Miami Breast Cancer Conference®,” said Michael J. Hennessy Jr., president of MJH Associates Inc., parent company of CURE
® magazine. “This track gives patients the opportunity to network and educate themselves on important topics surrounding treatment, BRCA and clinical trials.”
For 36 years, the Miami Breast Cancer Conference® has brought together surgical, medical and radiation oncologists, as well as geneticists, pathologists, radiologists and supportive-care specialists, to foster attendees’ awareness of state-of-the-art treatments for all stages and subtypes of breast cancer. Now, CURE Media Group’s full-day event will help to educate, inform and equip patients and their loved ones with the necessary resources and knowledge in the breast cancer space, designed to assist them through the cancer continuum – from diagnosis to treatment and in to survivorship.
The meeting will be kicked off with an optional yoga session, followed by the first session focused on side effects. Hope S. Rugo, M.D., FASCO, professor of medicine and director of breast oncology and clinical trials education at the University of California San Francisco, Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, will be discussing the management of side effects from breast cancer treatment. As the breast cancer journey continues beyond treatment, Deborah Boyle, MSN, RN, AOCNS, FAAN, will offer background on survivorship care planning as patients transition from their oncologists to primary care physicians.
“Breast cancer care is characterized by rapid change and discoveries,” Boyle said. “Survivors need to be aware of these phenomenon to optimize their understanding of their illness.”
Also, during this session, Maimah Karmo – founder and CEO of the TigerLily Foundation, and a 10-year breast cancer survivor – will join Rugo and Boyle for a panel discussion on side effects during and after breast cancer treatment.
The next session is designed to focus on hereditary cancers. First, Adam M. Brufsky, M.D., Ph.D., will offer the audience background in the various treatment options for those with BRCA-positive disease, while Sue Friedman – founder and executive director of Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered (FORCE) – will discuss genetic counseling.
“It’s so important for people diagnosed with breast cancer to understand about genetics and the personalized medical options available to them based on their cancer genetics,” Friedman said. “As genetics technology improves, it is being integrated more and more into cancer care. Equally important, genetic counseling and testing for people with breast cancer can help their relatives better understand their cancer risks and learn about their options to lower their risk for cancer or detect it early.”
The hereditary cancers session will also feature a panel, including Brufsky and Friedman, who will be joined by Beth DuPree, MD, FACS, ABOIM, a board-certified general surgeon at Northern Arizona Healthcare; and Dawn McGraw, a BRCA-positive breast cancer survivor.
Next, the “What You Need to Know” session of the meeting is intended to encompass a variety of aspects associated with breast cancer outside of just treatment. Rose Gerber, director of patient advocacy and education at the Community Oncology Alliance Patient Advocacy Network, will inform patients on how to find clinical trials and why they are important to join. In addition, Ann H. Partridge, M.D., MPH, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, medical oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and founder and director of the Program for Young Women with Breast Cancer, will discuss psychosocial, behavioral, and communication issues in breast cancer care. And lastly, Ellen Miller Sonet, MBA, JD, chief strategy and policy officer of CancerCare
, will help patients and their loved ones with the crippling effects of financial toxicity following a breast cancer diagnosis.
“The financial impact of cancer can be worse than the illness itself. There is help available however, and through meetings like this, we can spread the news about where and how to find it,” Sonet said. “Cancer can be very isolating and patients and care partners often feel so alone. When we all get together however, we feel supported and validated. We learn new information and about access to resources, which helps us feel empowered and in better control of our lives.”
All three will also participate in a panel following the session.
The final session will focus specifically on treatment using CDK4/6 inhibitors. Miami Breast Cancer Conference® co-chair Debu Tripathy, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Breast Medical Oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and also CURE® magazine’s editor in chief, will offer patients background on what these agents are and how they work to treat breast cancer.
“A deeper understanding of the cellular biology of cancer cells is being increasingly translated into new clinical strategies that make a difference for cancer patients. Biological drugs now outnumber chemotherapy agents for new approvals for the treatment of breast cancer,” he said. “The cell cycle is the engine of cell growth, and is often dysregulated in cancer – revealing a specific vulnerability in hormone receptor-positive breast cancer that. This has led the development of specific CDK 4/6 inhibitors that have been shown to double remission times and are now an important part of our armamentarium.”
In conjunction with these efforts, Patricia Jakel, RN, MN, AOCN, will present on side effects derived from treatment with CDK4/6 inhibitors. The pair will then be joined by Stephanie Seban, an 8-year metastatic breast cancer thriver, blogger, and wellness advocate who is also the keynote lecture for the annual meeting, in a panel discussion.
The keynote speaker for the meeting will be Patrick I. Borgen, M.D., chair of the department of surgery at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. In a recent CURE
Talks Cancer podcast interview, Borgen highlighted the reason why the Miami Breast Cancer Conference®’s faculty will be of most value to patients and their loved ones.
“Doctors do a bad job at predicting the future. I think we have a responsibility of maintaining hope,” he said. “The Miami Breast Cancer Conference is a faculty of 30 people who are the absolute top of their field, but they are humble, empathetic, caring physicians and I think they have a lot to offer (the CURE
To conclude the day, Shannon Pulaski, patient advocate and founder of Proactive Genes, and Ellen T. Matloff, MS, CGC, president and chief executive officer of My Gene Counsel will have a discussion about conversations surrounding hereditary cancer risk.
The meeting will be held March 9 from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.