6th Annual Breast
Cancer Symposium held
Inspiration hosts physicians and scientists
Express Staff Writer
Inspiration Fund for Breast Cancer Research hosted the 6th
Annual Breast Cancer Symposium in Sun Valley over the weekend. Medical
doctors and scientists met in various workshops to discuss and engage
about this year’s topic, "Molecular Biology of Breast Cancer ¾
founded in 1993 by breast cancer survivor and Wood River Valley resident
Laura Evans to raise awareness and research funds for the cause, as well
as to educate and support those affected by the disease. In 1995, along
with 17 other survivors, Evans led a climb on Argentina's Mount Aconcagua,
which at 22,841 feet is the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere. Evans
died from a brain tumor in 2000.
of the symposium’s workshops encourages discussions of the general
issues of breast cancer with emphasis on the year's subject. Participants
share their unpublished work, regardless of whether they relate to a
specific session heading.
heady company, disagreements among scientist are not unusual, but they
excite rather then lead them into war, said Dr. Marc Lippman, of the
University of Michigan Health System.
On the last
day of the symposium the group presents a public forum, where audience
members are invited to present questions. Having such well regarded
researchers gather together every year is among EI’s most important
accomplishments. A synopsis of the key statements that came out of the
symposium will be published by Lippman.
The gist of
this year’s symposium was to try to understand what those properties are
that cause some genes to mutate. Simply put, what "allows us to
live," and "what leads to cancer?" said Dr. Neal Rosen, of
Sloane Kettering in New York.
issues discussed were clinical studies of new drugs, drugs for post
menapausal cancer survivors, future research, risk factors, Isoflavins
found in soy products, and Chinese herbology.
discourage over use of soy, and while there are some promising studies
being done with Chinese herbs, "women should be very cautious about
visits to the health food store," said Lippman.
also discounted recent reports that women who work nights may increase
their breast cancer risk due to bright light in the dark hours, which
decreases melatonin secretion and increases estrogen levels. As they had
discussed, studies must have appropriate control groups, and have taken
into account family histories, other high risk factors like age and past
medical history of the patient, including the age when a first child was
born and if the woman breast fed or not.
didn’t feel that the above mentioned study was done thoroughly enough to
be fully validated.
the talk swung from research to accepted procedures—in so far as it was
comprehensible for the lay person.
we want Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMS) that are
anti-estrogen in the breasts and uterus, good to lipids and bones, and
help decrease hot flashes," said Event and EI Medical Board Chair,
Dr. Julie Gralow, to much appreciative laughter from the audience made up
almost entirely of women.
much confusion over this very important issue, since estrogen receptors of
different target tissues vary in chemical structure, thus interacting
differently with the estrogen receptors of disparate tissues. Among the
more commonly known SERMS are Tamoxifen, and Raloxifen, which are
extremely effective in blocking the action of estrogens. But they must be
discontinued after about five years, as it appears that they not only stop
working but possibly begin to mimic the cancer growth.
new clinical studies are being done with Aromatase inhibitors, which also
work on estrogen-sensitive cancers, but in a different way. They do not
block the action of estrogen but rather work by preventing estrogen
production in the first place.
complicating matters for women who’ve had cancer is that they tend to go
into early menopause. Therefore, bone density loss, and other symptoms
associated with menopause become at issue in any subsequent treatment.
course of action a patient takes, the panel all concurred that keeping one’s
doctor informed of everything you’re doing—whether it is acupuncture,
herbs or soy—is of utmost importance.
absolutely critical that you—for yourself — really need to talk to
your physician," said Lippman.
together for early detection and prevention is what it’s all about.
dancing naked around a bed singing Jewish songs worked, I’d do it,"
Rosen added. For more information on Expedition Inspiration, call
208-726-6456 or go to expeditioninspiration.org.