Three Year Anniversary for After Twenty Years Cancer Research Blog

Celebrating 3 years of blogging about cancer research from the patient perspective.It really is hard to believe that it’s been over three years since I started this blog in the late summer of 2013.

I have learned so much in the process of reading and writing about developments in cancer research from the patient perspective. And it’s been wonderful to connect with so many readers and fellow bloggers.

I’ve been reflecting a bit on starting the blog, how it’s been going and what comes next, and I’d like to share some of those thoughts in this post.

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Metastatic Breast Cancer: Learning About Innovative Research Approaches

Researchers are using genomic studies to develop better treatments for metastatic breast cancer.In a recent post, we looked at highlights of a major report on the status of metastatic breast cancer care and research. That report notes that progress against MBC has slowed and, over the past decade, only about 7% of research publications about breast cancer have been specifically about metastatic breast cancer. It also talked about several things that need to be done to accelerate progress and offered some hope that we are beginning to move in the right direction.

Shortly after writing that post, I attended an event where I learned about some fascinating MBC research that is going on now. The event was the 2016 Advocate Leadership Summit organized by the National Breast Cancer Coalition.

I’ll share here a few of my impressions from parts of the program that focused specifically on MBC research. Videos of these sessions are now available on the NBCC website. Continue reading

Metastatic Breast Cancer: How Can We Accelerate Progress?

Genomic studies will play an important role in precision medicine for metastatic breast cancer.For a long time, there has been a critical need for research that is focused specifically on metastatic breast cancer. That means understanding what causes metastasis and how we can intervene to shut down this process even after it has started. Although a true “cure” may not be possible, the question is whether we can treat the disease in such a way that patients live for a very long time with good quality of life.

That should not be so far-fetched an idea. HIV/AIDS not long ago was usually fatal, and now this disease can be managed as a chronic condition with a combination of drugs that patients take for the rest of their lives. Could something like this be possible for breast cancer that has become metastatic?

There have been some amazing advances in the treatment of metastatic melanoma and metastatic lung cancer using immune system therapies. Why have we not seen similar advances in treating metastatic breast cancer?

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Breast Cancer: How Much Progress Have We Made?

How much progress have we really made against breast cancer?It’s October, and Breast Cancer Awareness Month in now well underway. As always during October, we’re surrounded by pink products, business promotions displaying the pink ribbon and pink-themed advertising–all in the name of breast cancer “awareness”. But how much real awareness does all this bring? Does it actually help patients at all?

Why not take a step back from all the craziness for a moment and take a look at where we actually are in the fight against breast cancer. Breast Cancer Awareness Month has been around for 30 years. It seems fair to ask: with all this awareness, how much progress have we actually made against breast cancer? And if it’s not enough: how can we, or will we, do better? Continue reading

Top Cancer Research Stories: Fall 2014

Notable cancer research stories for Fall 2014 included what some describe as "unprecedented results" from a clinical trial of the drug pertuzumab (Perjeta).What’s interesting in cancer research right now? What do we most need to know about? This is the latest post in a series in which we review several of the most notable cancer research stories that have come out over the previous two to three months.

These are a few of the recent stories that seem to have the greatest potential impact, at least from my perspective, and that I know I’ll want to follow as they develop further.

Topics covered this time include HER2-positive breast cancer, immune system therapies and overcoming treatment resistance.

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Breast Cancer: Where Are We After Twenty Years?

on_the_roadI recently came across a copy of a letter I wrote back in 1994, about a year after my breast cancer diagnosis, to members of a congressional committee that was considering the budget for the following year. Here is part of what I had written:

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 1993 at age 35, although I was considered to be at low risk for getting the disease…I read with great interest that researchers are finding some promising new leads in their study of this and other types of cancer. Discovery of the causes of and cure for cancer may not be far way, but it all depends on our continued strong commitment to providing appropriate levels of funding for basic research.

The paragraph above still represents essentially where we are today, twenty years later. That is, we continue to hear about promising new leads yet we still know little about the causes of cancer and certainly don’t have a cure. Continue reading