1. Nalley, Catlin

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In 1977, the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) began with a mission to "provide state-of-the-art information on breast cancer research." Forty years later, this tradition of excellence and innovation continues.

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Since it was established, SABCS has grown to encompass all facets of breast cancer research and treatment; this conference provides a myriad of opportunities and resources to every professional dedicated to the enhancement of the field.


"The goal of this year's symposium, as it has been in previous years, is to review the latest advances in translational and clinical science in breast cancer," said Carlos L. Arteaga, MD, Co-Director of SABCS. "We aim to provide a variety of opportunities to attendees from educational sessions and workshops to recognition of top investigators. This meeting offers something for everyone from basic scientists to clinical advisors to patient advocates and everyone in between."


Commemorating Four Decades

This year, SABCS, held Dec. 5-9, will not only continue its tradition of a schedule packed with the latest breakthroughs in the field, but 2017's conference will also celebrate a major milestone: 4 decades of breast cancer innovation and growth.


"We will celebrate what the meeting has accomplished, honor the people who have succumbed to cancer, and renew our commitment for the future," noted Arteaga, who is also Professor of Medicine and Cancer Biology, Associate Director for Clinical Research, and Director of the Breast Cancer Research Program, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.


Over the course of the last 40 years, SABCS has evolved into the premier breast cancer conference and continues to work to "achieve a balance of clinical, translational, and basic research, providing a forum for interaction, communication, and education for a broad spectrum of researchers, health professionals, and those with a special interest in breast cancer."


"I have witnessed [SABCS] grow bigger and continue to attract more people," recalled Arteaga. "Initially, it was a meeting of just academics doing translational and clinical research. Now you have individuals that span the field of breast cancer, including patient advocates, government and regulatory agents, pharma, and biotechnology.


"Additionally, since the meeting has been associated with the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the largest cancer research organization in the world, we have seen the translational focus of the meeting strengthen," he continued.


During the 2017 symposium, as a part of the commemoration of the organization's anniversary, Richard Pazdur, MD, will be honored with the SABCS 40th Anniversary Award Lecture.


Pazdur, who is the Director of the FDA's Oncology Center of Excellence and Acting Director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, will discuss the past and future of cancer drug development. "We want to recognize his contributions to breast cancer research and treatment developments," noted Arteaga. "He has led the FDA at a time of enormous change when several breast cancer drugs have been approved."


Schedule Highlights

This year's schedule boasts a plethora of educational and career development events covering the spectrum of breast cancer research and treatment.


Daily plenary lectures, which focus on the latest trends in breast cancer, will kick off each morning at SABCS. "These plenary sessions will highlight exciting areas of growth in breast cancer research and treatment," noted Arteaga.


The lectures include "Potential of Radiation Therapy to Convert the Tumor Into an In Situ Vaccine," "Advances in the Understanding of Mutational Signatures in Human Cells," and "Individualizing Management of the Axillary Nodes," which will be led by Silvia C. Formenti, MD, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, N.Y., Serena Nik-Zainal, MD, PhD, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge, U.K., and Tari A. King, MD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, respectively.


Mini-symposia will be held throughout SABCS, offering attendees the opportunity to enhance their knowledge on an array of cutting-edge breast cancer topics. "These symposiums will highlight key areas of research, including molecular subtypes of triple-negative breast cancer and the implications of the choice of treatment that we offer patients with that subtype of the disease," Arteaga explained.


There is no shortage of educational sessions and workshops that encompass the myriad of areas in breast cancer research and treatment. These sessions feature discussion on radiation oncology, metastatic disease, genomics, and more. For example, a clinical science forum is planned on the controversies in the adjuvant treatment of ER-positive breast cancer. "This is an area where we have had major advances in the last couple of years," noted Arteaga.


Throughout SABCS, oncologists will be immersed in the latest breast cancer research. A variety of poster sessions and discussions will be available. Topics of interest include tumor cell and molecular biology; detection and diagnosis; and epidemiology, risk, and prevention. Additionally, ongoing trials in immunotherapy, surgery, radiotherapy, and new agents will be featured.


On Saturday morning, conference goers will have the chance to finish their time at the conference with the "Year in Review," which according to Arteaga has become one of the highlights of SABCS. "This special session reviews the top contributions, publications, and discoveries in the areas of basic science, translational research, early breast cancer, and metastatic disease," he said. "These talks are very popular among attendees and offer them a chance to hear from top investigators in the field on major advancements impacting breast cancer and their own practice."


Opportunities for educational and professional growth do not end when attendees leave the convention center each evening. Satellite events are available on an array of important topics and emerging research, including PARP inhibitors and triple-negative breast cancer.


SABCS will also be incorporating new features this year, including a session, "What Will You Do on Monday Morning?" This event focuses on what happens after attendees leave the conference and return to their work whether it be in the lab or at the bedside.


"This session will be a discussion of the potential changes in practice trends that SABCS has stimulated that may sway the way attendees approach their work, specifically the patients they care for on a daily basis," emphasized Arteaga.


Honoring Excellence

Every year, pioneers in the field of breast cancer are honored during SABCS and given the opportunity to share their knowledge and experience with their peers.


The William L. McGuire Memorial Lectureship will be awarded to Sir Richard Peto, FRS, from the University of Oxford, U.K. This honor was established in 1992 to commemorate the contributions of Dr. McGuire, co-founder of SABCS. His work played a significant role in introducing estrogen receptor assays on breast tumor tissue as a guide to treatment decisions for women with breast cancer, according to SABCS.


The Susan G. Komen Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction, established in 1992, recognizes scientists for significant work in advancing research concepts and for clinical application in the fields of breast cancer research, screening, or treatment. This year's recipients for the Basic Science and Clinical Research awards are Alan Ashworth, PhD, FRS, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, San Francisco, and Dennis J. Slamon, MD, PhD, UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, Los Angeles, respectively.


Ashworth will deliver a lecture on the "Development of Synthetic Lethal Treatments for Cancer" while Slamon will discuss "Molecular Diversity of Human Breast Cancer: Biologic and Therapeutic Implications."


This year, Jeffrey M. Rosen, PhD, from Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, will be honored with the AACR Distinguished Lectureship in Breast Cancer Research. This award was established to "recognize outstanding science that has inspired or has the potential to inspire new perspectives on the etiology, diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of breast cancer." During his lecture, Rosen will provide insights on "Leveraging Preclinical Models of Breast Cancer."


The AACR Outstanding Investigator Award for Breast Cancer Research is presented to an investigator, 50 years old or younger, whose novel work has had or may have a far-reaching impact on the etiology, detection, diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of breast cancer. The 2017 lecturer is Nicholas C. Turner, PhD, FRCP, BM, MA, Institute of Cancer Research and Royal Marsden, London.


SABCS Takeaways

Given the volume and variety of resources available to attendees at this year's SABCS, there will be no shortage of conference takeaways.


Attendees will have the latest updates on research and treatment trends that will translate into practice-changing opportunities. "SABCS offers a wide variety of topics that we hope will cover the whole spectrum and offer valuable resources to every investigator working in breast cancer, regardless of specialty or role," Arteaga said. "This is a disease that attracts many disciplines of research and care and we feel that the meeting should represent all of these fields."


When asked what he wants attendees to take away from the conference, Arteaga concluded, "I hope that they leave feeling updated on the latest advances and like they just came to the best breast cancer meeting in the world, nothing short of that! We are aiming high."


Catlin Nalley is associate editor.


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