As I write this, we are engaged in a whirlwind of final preparations for our Fifth International Symposium on the Intraductal Approach to Breast Cancer [that will be taking place March 1-4 in Santa Monica. I am looking forward to welcoming all of the researchers from throughout the United States as well as from China, Japan, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, and Sweden who will be arriving for this important event.
This year, for the first time, the Symposium will feature presentations on the intracrinology of the breast. Intracrinology is a relatively new research field that focuses on studying the effect that the hormones made by specific tissueâ€”like the breastâ€”has on that tissue. (This differs from endocrinology, in which investigators study the impact the hormones sent into the blood stream from the endocrine glands have on the bodyâ€™s other organs and tissue.) Believe it or not, the breast makes more than milk! It also makes estrogen, prolactin, serotonin, and maybe even progesterone for its own use. We have invited the researchers in this field to give a mini-symposium on what they have found. Then we will have researchers who have been looking at hormone levels in the ductal fluid present their findings. By creating an opportunity for a dialogue between these two disparate research groups, we hope to foster new collaborations and new thinking that might lead, one day, to the development of breast cancer treatments that could be put directly into the breast to block the hormone production made within the breast itself. Talk about exciting!
The Symposium will also include an update on the research underway on intraductal therapy to treat breast cancer. Some of you have heard me talk about the rat studies at Johns Hopkins where they squirted low dose chemotherapy down the ducts and prevented breast cancer. We will hear from these investigators as well as from other researchers at Johns Hopkins who have started a study that is looking at what effect chemotherapy has when put directly in the breast in women prior to their scheduled mastectomies for breast cancer.
We also have invited presenters who will review the data that we now have on the markers that can be found in breast fluid. Iâ€™m especially looking forward to the panel discussion that will follow these presentations, as we will be discussing whether we are ready to pick the best markers and put them on a dipstick and do a screening studyâ€”one of my longtime dreams!
Come to the Public Panel
Interested in learning more about intraductal research and the work we are doing, but not up for three days of science? Come to the free public panel the Foundation will be hosting at the Symposium on Saturday, March 3, at 6:00 pm. I will be there along with a representative panel of researchers from the conference. This is an excellent opportunity to gain insights into and ask questions about this exciting new research fieldâ€”and to learn how you can get involved. Advocates, breast cancer patients, current Foundation volunteers, and members of the media are all encouraged to attend.
I close this column by noting that best-selling author and widely syndicated columnist Molly Ivins died on January 31 at the age of 62 after a seven-year battle with breast cancer. I met Molly many years ago, and have always admired her wit, humor, and well placed barbs. As I reflect upon this amazing woman and the life she led, I am angry that we have not yet conquered this disease, and more dedicated than ever to end it. Please join me in making a Tribute Gift to the Foundation in memory of Molly Ivins.