Earlier this month, Fox Chase Cancer Center announced the opening of its Inflammatory Breast Cancer Clinic, the first such facility in the region. The new clinic, led by noted breast cancer clinician and researcher Massimo Cristofanilli, MD, FACP, focuses on the treatment of patients with inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). IBC accounts for about one percent of all breast cancers diagnosed in the United States. It can be difficult to diagnose because it rarely causes a breast lump and may not show up on a mammogram. It is considered one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer, making early diagnosis vital to saving lives.
Dr. Cristofanilli came to Fox Chase from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, where he founded and served as executive director of the Morgan Welch Inflammatory Breast Cancer Program and Clinic, which treats more cases of inflammatory breast cancer than any other facility in the world. The program and clinic honor Morgan Welch, one of Cristofanilli’s youngest patients. Welch was diagnosed with metastatic inflammatory breast cancer at the age of 24. Dr. Cristofanilli joins me to tell you more about IBC and our new clinic.
Patients with inflammatory breast cancer often face challenging odds, first to be promptly and accurately diagnosed and then to receive the most effective treatment. With the opening of this new clinic, Fox Chase Cancer Center is dedicating itself to improving both diagnosis and care for inflammatory breast cancer patients.
In October 2006, I opened the first clinic solely dedicated to IBC. The subsequent year we had the official dedication of the Morgan Welch Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Program and Clinic. Morgan Welch was one of my youngest patients with IBC. She died of widespread metastatic disease with her husband and family by her side. On her last visit she asked me to continue the fight against this terrible disease not for her anymore but for other women affected by IBC. During the following years, I learned from every woman with IBC and I realized how the complexity of this disease requires a tremendous effort in education for the public and medical personnel.
Moreover, more research is needed involving scientists from disciplines traditionally not involved in breast cancer studies. Fox Chase offers the opportunity for reaching out to women and physicians in a strategically significant geographic region represented by the north east of the United States.
Along with an outstanding clinical team, Fox Chase’s scientific resources in immunology, virology and tumor biology, developmental therapeutics and Phase I program represent outstanding opportunities for expanding our knowledge about the disease and introduce new and more effective therapies.
Fox Chase’s new IBC clinic offers patients a coordinated team of cancer care specialists who follow them through examination, care, and any continued monitoring. I believe in multidisciplinary team science as the most appropriate way to ensure that patients are getting top quality care.
May 11, 2010: To mark the opening of the new clinic, we were very fortunate to host an enthusiastic group of men and women, many of whom are actively involved in the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Foundation. These folks traveled from around the United States to visit Fox Chase Cancer Center and celebrate the opening of our Inflammatory Breast Cancer Clinic. Following are some photos from our day together:
I look forward to meeting you,
Cancer has proven to be as tough a challenge as any over the years. Its complexities make it difficult to eradicate through a single solution, but as I walk the halls of Fox Chase Cancer Center and learn of the work our staff is doing, I am emboldened by the advancements we are making to ever-better understanding the disease. It is through the work of those such as Joy Little, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Erica A. Golemis, PhD, who recently presented her team’s research regarding the role of protein NEDD9 in the development of aggressive breast cancer at the 2010 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), that we are continuing to gain precious insight into the tendencies of particular cancers. Dr. Little is a two-time recipient of the AACR Scholar-in-Training Travel Award, given to young investigators, as well as a National Cancer Institute postdoctoral award to further pursue the study of NEDD9 biology. I’ve invited Dr. Little to share some of the highlights of her presentation with the Strong Together community as these are some of the steps we are taking today to better ensure the health and happiness of our patients tomorrow.
While there is a lot of research describing contributors to cancer formation, it is always truly exciting when studies show that the loss or absence of something prevents cancer from occurring, which was the case in our study.
Our team examined populations of mice engineered to overexpress the HER2/neu gene, some of which possessed the protein NEDD9 while others did not. In those mice with the NEDD9 gene, 89% developed tumors over an 18-month period, while only 29% of mice without the NEDD9 gene developed tumors. These findings show NEDD9 is critical in the formation of breast tumors induced by high levels of the cell-surface receptor HER2/neu in mice, a novel role for NEDD9.
The fact that in the majority of our animals, HER2-driven tumors – known to be one of the most aggressive forms of the disease – don’t form without NEDD9 is new information we can use to view NEDD9 as a potential biomarker. If tumors show higher levels of NEDD9, it could be they are more aggressive, which can inform a patient’s care.
We, as researchers, are now poised to delve deeper into discovering what about the biology of NEDD9 makes it crucial in the formation stages of HER2-driven tumors. One day, pharmacological targeting of NEDD9 could also be therapeutically relevant, but first we’ll need to understand more about the why of the what we’ve just discovered. I look forward to hopefully sharing that update with the Strong Together community sooner rather than later, too!
Joy Little, PhD
Did you know that Fox Chase Cancer Center recently opened a state-of-the-art radiation therapy facility in Buckingham, PA? Patients can take advantage of the latest advances in radiation therapy provided by some of the nation’s most experienced doctors.
Radiation oncologist, Shelly Hayes, MD, oversees all treatment at this facility. (Watch her video here). She is here to tell you more about the facility – and to introduce you to one of her breast cancer patients.
I am pleased to tell you about our new facility, approximately 19 miles from the Center’s main campus, that offers Bucks County residents more convenient access to Fox Chase’s nationally recognized cancer treatment regimens, along with access to innovative care, clinical trials and all the resources of an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center.
In addition to state-of-the-art technology, patients at the Buckingham facility have access to a team of Fox Chase specialists who will carefully plan and carry out each patient’s course of radiation treatment. The team includes physicians specializing in radiation therapy (radiation oncologists), radiation therapists, medical dosimetrists, medical radiation physicists, oncology nurses, and a wide array of support staff.
One of our Bucks County neighbors and a breast cancer patient, Ellen Anthonisen, recently shared her experience on Fox Chase’s YouTube channel, which I’ve included for you below.
“I would be foolish not to go to Fox Chase,” Ellen Anthonisen, breast cancer patient
In this video, Ellen talks about her experience at Fox Chase’s Buckingham facility, where she went for her radiation treatment. She described the staff as having “the perfect combination of warmth, compassion and expertise.” Going to Buckingham, near her home, allowed Ellen to stay in control of her life during radiation treatment.
Learn more about Fox Chase Cancer Center at Buckingham by watching this short television commercial, or call 215-794-2700 to schedule an appointment.
This weekend (Saturday, May 8), Fox Chase Cancer Center unveils the Robert C. Young, MD, Pavilion, which houses the new Women’s Cancer Center. If you’d like to join us for the ribbon-cutting and a tour, R.S.V.P. to Wanda Ford at 215-728-3163 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this brief video, Bonnie Miller, Administrative Director of the Women’s Cancer Center, guides you to your first appointment through the new East Parking garage, which offers patients convenient access to the Women’s Cancer Center.
To schedule an appointment or for more information, call 215-728-3001. For a bone density test or mammography, call 215-728-2646.
Dear Patients, Caregivers, Friends, Family Members, Doctors, Nurses, Volunteers and Staff -
Are you planning to participate in the 20th Annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Philadelphia this year? If so, we hope you will seriously consider joining Team Fox Chase. By walking, running or simply making an online donation, you will be joining forces with one of the region’s premiere breast cancer centers – Fox Chase Cancer Center – and making a difference in the lives of women facing this disease.
Start a Mother’s Day Tradition
On Sunday, May 9 – Mother’s Day – join Team Fox Chase in Eakins Oval, just beyond the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The race begins at 8:15 at 22nd Street & Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
On behalf of Fox Chase Cancer Center, I thank you for your support and participation in this landmark event.