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M. D. Anderson to hold first international conference on inflammatory breast cancer

HOUSTON - The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center will hold the first international inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) conference on December 6-7, to bring together internationally recognized breast cancer clinicians and scientists.

Participants will present new clinical discoveries and participate in educational workshops, with the goal of improving diagnosis and management of this rare but deadly disease.

During the conference, the new IBC International Consortium will be formalized to develop joint international projects aimed at raising global awareness, increasing education and seeking funding to study the disease. The Consortium will consist of participants from ten countries, including: Australia, Belgium, Egypt, France, Italy, Japan, Spain, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. Among its first projects, the Consortium plans to establish a database of IBC cases that will include a tissue and serum bank.

"We are assembling researchers from around the world who are passionate about advancing progress against this disease," says Massimo Cristofanilli, M.D., associate professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Breast Medical Oncology and Director of the Morgan Welch Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Program and Clinic. "This is the first conference dedicated exclusively to exchanging knowledge and discussing the complexities of IBC. Our goal is to step up the pace of research and education - ultimately saving women's lives."

IBC is a rare, fast-growing and aggressive cancer. It can spread in just a few weeks, and is often mistaken for something other than breast cancer, such as a rash or infection. Survival for women with IBC can be impeded by delays in diagnosis, a lack of expertise in treating IBC and its resistance to treatment with standard chemotherapy. IBC represents up to two percent of all breast cancer cases diagnosed each year in the United States; its prevalence globally is unclear due to its common misdiagnosis.

Research presented at the conference will include an analysis of under-reporting of IBC; a potential new molecular target for prevention and treatment of metastases in IBC; and a new target for IBC treatment showing promise in preclinical phase. For example, one study presents a method that targets the epidermal growth factor receptor, a pathway that plays an important role in tumor growth, mortality and invasion of IBC and which is over expressed in 30 percent of IBC cases; another examines the use of vorinostat, a drug commonly used to treat cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, to treat the aggressive cases of IBC that recur on the skin with invasion into the dermal lymphatics.

M. D. Anderson has seen nearly 200 new cases of IBC in the last two years - more than any other institution in the country. In 2006, the institution unveiled the Morgan Welch Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Program and Clinic, the largest clinic in the world devoted to inflammatory breast cancer research and care. The clinic is composed of a dedicated group of 16 clinical and pre-clinical investigators spanning six divisions, including cancer medicine, diagnostic imaging, pathology/laboratory medicine, prevention, radiation oncology and surgery. Investigators have identified high-impact goals for clinical and pre-clinical studies, all focused on improved patient care through management and discovery.

"We are making great strides for women suffering from IBC," Cristofanilli says. "We are dedicated to disseminating research and information about the disease that will benefit women all over the world in terms of both diagnosis and treatment."


Contact: Laura Sussman
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

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