San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium to tackle latest issues in research and treatment next week

SAN ANTONIO (November 29, 2012) – Close to 7,500 researchers, clinicians and advocates will gather here next week at one of the largest breast cancer symposiums in the world.

The 35th annual CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, which runs Dec. 4-8, will feature an international lineup of presenters and moderators, including several faculty members from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

These faculty members and thousands of others will gather to present and hear about the latest research, trends and topics of discussion in breast cancer, including drug trials and treatment methods.

“At this symposium there are presentations of clinical study results looking for new medicines that are safer and more tolerable. Some of the particularly interesting studies are about how long these medicines should be given,” said Peter Ravdin, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Cancer Therapy & Research Center’s (CTRC) breast cancer program and co-director of the symposium.

“There are many diseases we haven’t cured, but we’ve developed treatments that can prevent or delay the serious aspects of the disease,” Dr. Ravdin said. “We are not curing metastatic breast cancer yet, but for many women there are more easily tolerable therapies that can hold it in check for long periods. This year several studies will examine the length of time for a treatment to be most effective, in both drugs and radiation therapy.”

The amount of necessary screening, rather than treatment, will be one topic addressed by Ismail Jatoi, M.D., a CTRC surgical oncologist. Dr. Jatoi will moderate a session on Controversies in the Surgical Management of Breast Cancer. He will address the use of MRI before surgery, and whether we are doing more of those than medically necessary when a mammogram may often do.

“For women who are about to undergo surgery for breast cancer, some doctors may advocate the routine use of breast MRI (rather than just a mammogram) prior to surgery, to help decide whether a partial mastectomy or total mastectomy is indicated,” Dr. Jatoi said.

An MRI may find additional very small cancers that are not visible on mammogram. However, he said, the routine use of MRI before surgery may result in more patients undergoing mastectomies, when partial mastectomies may have been suitable.

“The additional very small foci of tumors (away from the primary breast cancer) can generally be adequately treated with radiotherapy and modern drug therapy. However, a mastectomy is usually recommended when such additional small foci of tumor are discovered on MRI,” Dr. Jatoi said. “Therefore, the routine use of MRI prior to surgery for breast cancer may result in unnecessary mastectomies, when a partial mastectomy might have been suitable, and this may potentially have an adverse effect on quality of life.” However, he added, there are clearly cases when breast MRI is indicated, and plays an important role in the management of breast cancer.

The symposium’s local impact is significant. The symposium, which began in 1977 with fewer than 200 attendees, last year brought people from more than 100 countries and filled more than 20,000 room nights at area hotels over the course of the event. One of the largest annual events in San Antonio, SABCS is both an economic boost to the city and an opportunity to highlight the area’s increasingly vibrant biomedical sciences sector to international talent. The symposium is a collaboration among the Cancer Therapy & Research Center at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, the AACR and Baylor College of Medicine.

The AACR Communications and Public Relations Department will operate a full-service press room in Room 217A-C of the convention center. In addition, press conferences will be held to highlight studies on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings.

To register as press for the conference, journalists are asked to present media identification or a business card issued by a recognized news organization or publication, as well as two bylined medical articles or a copy of editorial masthead. Freelance journalists are asked to present a letter of assignment on letterhead from a recognized news organization or publication, and a business card. To preregister and for more information:

The Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is one of the elite academic cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute (NCI) Designated Cancer Center, and is one of only four in Texas. A leader in developing new drugs to treat cancer, the CTRC Institute for Drug Development (IDD) conducts one of the largest oncology Phase I clinical drug programs in the world, and participates in development of cancer drugs approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. For more information, visit

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