‘Considering BRCA Genes: Knowledge Improves Outcomes’ Opens Conversation about Latest Advancements in Hereditary Breast Cancer Research & Care

Author:  Laurel Skurko, Marketing Director, UCSF Radiology and Biomedical Imaging

Last month, community members, researchers and providers from around the Bay Area came together for an important event on hereditary breast cancer and the rapid advances in research, coordinated teamwork, and the continuum of care offered at UCSF.

The genesis of the event was unique and powerful. The idea was born from a team of dedicated medical professionals and their desire to fight breast cancer. That idea was then carried along by the dual impulses of breast cancer survivor Laura Holmes Haddad, who wanted to thank her care team and to share with others how vital it was for her to be able to come to an academic research center for the resources that saved her life.

There are so many – almost daily – innovations and improvements in breast cancer research and care and as a result it’s possible a knowledge gap could develop. Does everyone in the global community have the most recent information to help their patients? Do patients understand the latest research and their options for care? We can’t be sure. Events like this are one way in which world-class UCSF experts can share the very latest developments in their fields. We were proud to give experts in the field of hereditary breast cancer the platform to discuss management of BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations with the providers and community members in attendance.

The event included a meet-and-greet followed by a meaningful panel discussion featuring commentary from Event Chairperson, Heather Greenwood, MD, assistant professor in breast imaging at UCSF; Alan Ashworth, PhD, FRS, president of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center; Pamela Munster, MD, director of the Early Phase Clinical Trials Unit and co-leader of the Center for BRCA Research; Mindy Goldman, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UCSF; and Laura Holmes Haddad, breast cancer survivor and author of “This is Cancer: Everything You Need to Know from the Waiting Room to the Bedroom. Larisa Kura, breast cancer survivor and associate dean of administration and finance for the School of Dentistry, acted as moderator, posing questions of our panel.

Thank you to these panelists for their invaluable insights and dedication to diagnosing and treating hereditary breast cancers. Additional thanks to the UCSF Helen Diller Family Cancer Center, UCSF Imaging, The Center for BRCA Research, and UCSF OB-GYN, the many UCSF geneticists who attended the event as expert advisors,  as well as the Avon Breast Center at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center for the tremendous support you offered to make this educational opportunity possible and for sharing the Mammovan with attendees. This rolling reminder helps everyone be alert to the importance of breast cancer screening.

As stated by Pamela Munster, as echoed in the title of the event, and as declared by others during the discussion, “Knowledge improves outcomes,” so spreading the word on the information shared during this pivotal event will be important to helping those in our community.  Thank you all who attended for opening the door to an on-going dialogue. We look forward to watching the positive effects of the collaborative effort of the hosts and guests of this October, 2017 gathering.

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