Cancer Experts Gather In San Antonio To Discuss Breast Cancer Research

By Reina Ilagan

Dec 06, 2016 05:50 AM EST

Around 7,500 scientists and physicians from over 90 countries came together for the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium wherein they share recent diagnostic and treatment discoveries for breast cancer.

With thousands of experts participating, the symposium was tagged as "the Mecca of the breast cancer world" by Dr. Virginia Kaklamani, the symposium co-director. She is also a professor of hematology and oncology at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.

"This is where the basic scientists, who are used to looking at cells and fruit flies and mice, end up starting to think about people instead of fruit flies," Kaklamani said.

"And then there's the clinicians, who think about people for a living that help them get those ideas into clinical trials so that we can evolve all of our research and make it patient-related," she added.

According to a study presented by Dr. Benjamin Smith in the symposium, mastectomy and reconstruction posed the highest complication rates. The findings also revealed that among the different therapeutic options for women with early-stage breast cancer, mastectomy with reconstruction has the highest cost, with the average cost of procedure amounting to $89,140.

Meanwhile, the average cost of therapy for mastectomy alone is $48,758. Lumpectomy costs $70,803. However, lumpectomy plus brachytherapy costs $77,245.

The figures given in the study are the cost of procedure, plus complication costs within two years of diagnosis for younger women with commercial health insurance.

For older women on Medicare, lumpectomy with brachytherapy has the highest average costs of therapy, $37,741. This is followed by mastectomy plus reconstruction without radiation which is $36,166.

Other research trends discussed during the five-day symposium include targeted therapy, manipulating the immune system, liquid biopsies, and adjusting duration of therapy.

Kaklamani said that the breast cancer program at the Cancer Therapy and Research Center at UT Health Science Center San Antonio has become "one of the most productive programs in the country" as the symposium brought research funding and talent to the city.

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