March 25 2011 - Breast Cancer Conference Starts Today

Posted on Friday, March 25, 2011

Breast Cancer Conference Starts Today
Staff Writer

Texas Oncology-Tyler and Baylor Health Care System will host the annual two-day Tyler Breast Cancer Conference beginning today at Harvey Convention Center, 2000 W. Front St.

Attendees will hear from guest speaker Dr. Frankie Ann Holmes, a physician at Memorial City Memorial Hospital in Houston, who also will field questions about breast cancer during a community forum at 6 p.m. today. The forum is sponsored by Trinity Mother Frances Hospitals and Clinics.

Dr. Svetislava Vukelja, conference director and associate director of Texas Oncology — Tyler Cancer Center, said it will provide an information session for people who want to choose a healthier lifestyle.

“By attending, it will increase your cancer awareness,” Dr. Vukelja said. “People with the right information make better choices, and they understand the impact on survivorship. We want to treat what we diagnose, but we also want to prevent breast and other cancers. The message we want received is that we are curing those with cancer and people are living longer.”

The event is open to survivors and patients who are newly diagnosed and family members who are affected by cancer. Participants will learn about family connections and the importance of vitamins, nutrition and exercise.

“There’s a question about vitamin D, the body mass index and the effect of obesity and its association with cancer,” Dr. Vukelja said. “At the Saturday conference, axillary lymph node dissection will be covered. The question is, ‘Does every patient need axillary lymph node dissection if their sentinel lymph node is positive?’ There’s data that says that axillary lymph node dissection may not be necessary in all patients with positive lymph nodes. Our goal is to do less surgical intervention without compromising the outcome and avoid additional surgical complications.”

On Saturday, physicians, nurses and allied health professionals will learn about the latest developments in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. They will be updated on the latest developments in systemic and surgical treatment for those who previously were or are newly diagnosed with breast cancer.

“We will discuss new drugs and targeted therapy,” Dr. Vukelja said. “We want to kill the cancer but have a lesser effect on the normal cells. We have made tremendous, tremendous progress by being more targeted.”

Adjuvant and neoadjuvant regimens also will be a focus.

“Neoadjuvant means systemic treatment before definitive surgery,” Dr. Vukelja said. “We are trying to shrink the tumor to allow us to do conservative surgical procedures. Adjuvant means the tumor has been removed but some cancer cells may still be present in the bloodstream — unable to be seen or detected either radiographically or clinically — so the chemotherapy is essentially used more as a safety net in order to prevent the cancer from returning.”

Other speakers include: Dr. David Euhus, professor, department of surgery at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center-Dallas; Dr. Joyce A. O’Shaughnessy, co-director of breast cancer research at Baylor-Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center, Texas Oncology-Dallas; and Dr. Phoebe Freer, director of education and program development, Division of breast imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital-Boston.

More than 300 people attend the event each year. No registration is needed for today’s event. To register for the Saturday educational conference, visit For more information, call 214-820-2317.