Cancer Events

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Cancer Research: What’s Ahead

This article by Barbara Fox was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on

May 5, 1999. All rights reserved.

In the next decade, oncologists won’t just treat breast

cancer, they will try to use drugs to prevent it. And they will also

get involved in such psycho-social therapies as stress-relieving


and meditation. An in-depth daylong symposium "Breast Cancer:

Facing the New Millennium," will be Friday, May 7, from 8 a.m

to 3:30 p.m. at the Princeton Marriott in Forrestal Village. For $35

reservations, including continental breakfast and lunch, call


or 609-497-2100 or 215-349-8380.

"I think it is really interesting that the University of


offers to patients things that were considered alternative or


medicine — imagery, meditation, art, visualization, and music

therapy," says Jane Rodney, director of the Breast Cancer

Resource Center (BCRC) of the Princeton YWCA, sponsor of the annual


Each year the BCRC chooses a different leading research institute

as a co-sponsor: Fox Chase Cancer Center, the Cancer Institute of

New Jersey, and the Mercer Medical Center were previously selected.

This year the sponsors are the University of Pennsylvania Cancer


(UPCC) and hospitals associated with the University of Pennsylvania,

including the Capital Health System in Trenton. Another sponsor is

the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Network (UPCN).

Kevin R. Fox, an associate professor at the UPCC, will talk

about the impact of breast cancer, about how 44,000 women and 400

men will die of the disease this year, but that when breast cancer

is confined to the breast, the five-year survival rate is over 95

percent. Angela DeMichelle, an instructor at the UPCC, will

cover what is new in breast cancer treatment.

"The big issue is where breast cancer prevention is right now

and where we are going with it," says M. Anne Blackwood,

assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology at UPCC. In


the newest breast cancer prevention techniques and those in the


she will be joined by Daniel Fram, director of radiation


at the Capital Health System; Robert Goldberg of Shore Memorial

Hospital; Sten I. Kjellborg of Warren Hospital; and Kathleen

Toomey of Somerset Medical Center.

"For a long time oncologists were simply trying to figure out

how to treat cancer. But chemoprevention is brand new. If we can catch

cells that are on the way to becoming cancer cells that may be our

best approach," says Blackwood.

One study shows that there is an intervention that can decrease risk

for women who are at risk, but questions are left unanswered. "For

those genetically disposed to breast cancer we may want to think about

other options. The field is brand new and we have a long distance

to travel," she says.

"What is helping us to do that is our increasing understanding.

The molecular biologists are more able to explain it to us, and


are using the information and trying to develop early interventional

policies. With translational research — chemo prevention —

we take what we are learning in the laboratory and apply it as quickly

as possible."

Blackwood’s own work involves a follow-up study on new uses for


Developed by Zeneca 20 years ago, Tamoxifen has long been used to

treat breast cancer, but it has just begun to be used for breast


prevention, says Blackwood. She is a principal investigator on that

study, but she is also working on one that uses Raloxifene, an Eli

Lilly drug that was approved in 1997 to treat osteoporosis, but will

now be tested for preventing breast cancer.

"Raloxifene was never studied for breast cancer treatment, but

in the osteoporosis studies, the women taking Raloxifene were getting

less breast cancer," says Blackwood. "Both Tamoxifen and


are medications of the same class." Both find the estrogen


and, in some tissues, prevent estrogen from doing its job, thus


cancer growth. Often, each drug behaves like the other.

On July 1 patients will have an opportunity to


in this Tamoxifen/Raloxifene study; they will be "randomized."

In other words, neither the patients nor their doctors will be told

which treatment they are receiving.

Participants in the May 7 seminar may also attend two of the five

afternoon workshops offered by staff members of the University of

Pennsylvania Cancer Center: "Managing Stress During Breast Cancer

Treatment," by Margaret Lazar, program director for


programs at UCCC: "Music and Imaging," by Brian Abrams,

director of music therapy; "Genetic Predisposition: Preventive

Options Kathleen Calzone and Jill Stopfer of the Cancer

Risk Evaluation Program; "Artmaking: an Interactive Experience,"

Gianna Volpe, artist in residence; and "Family History:

Who is at Risk?" Katrina Armstrong, assistant professor

of medicine.

"We will look at the different styles for coping for coping with

stress, and what happens to your emotions and your mind," says

Lazar, who graduated from the University of New South Wales in


in 1979. She has a master’s degree in social work from Rutgers and

a master’s in health administration from St. Joseph’s.


don’t change. People have a certain style of coping with stress, and

some have likened the diagnosis of breast cancer to the trauma of

a natural disaster. Sometimes they need to learn new coping


"We try to help patients to accept the stresses they can’t


says Lazar, "and to look at the balance in their life, at how

much energy is focused on the illness itself." Spending a lot

of energy on the illness may be appropriate during chemotherapy, but

at other times it is important to shift some of that energy to restore

the balance.

Examples of imbalance: "Often someone with a life threatening

illness puts long-term decisions on hold and focuses on what is in

the immediate. That is appropriate during treatment, but in remission,

look at other areas of your family life — vacation, social


or returning to work."

"I’ve had some patients say I’ve learned to let the house go dirty

because it is not the most important thing. Or to sit with my kid

because they need it. To enjoy the things of today, not to worry about

the little things," says Lazar. "It changes priorities."

"No matter how much I see it in my work we all live with this

fantasy that cancer won’t affect us," says Lazar. She tells of

a girlfriend who had a 10-year battle with cancer but died, leaving

two little children. "I never thought I would go to her funeral;

it forces you to re-look at what’s important.

"When faced with the fact that you can’t control your future,

you need to consider what are the values that you hold, so you can

be true to them. And learn to let go of those things that you can’t

control." Her own method of dealing with such stress: "I


every single day, an hour a day."

— Barbara Fox

Top Of Page
Cancer Events

Breast Cancer Resource Center/Princeton YWCA, "Facing

the New Millennium, Marriott, 609-497-2100. $35 including continental

breakfast and lunch. Friday, May 7, 8 to 3:30 p.m.

Mom-O-Gram Mammograms, sponsored by the Mercer County

Commission on the Status of Women and the BCRC, are available


May 26, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at 169 Wilfred Avenue, Hamilton. Fees

for uninsured women will be paid by sponsors. 609-989-6033 or


Breast Cancer Awareness, St. Francis Medical Center,

Women’s Health Center, Kuser Road, 609-599-5790. Free breast exam

by physician and low-cost ($40) mammogram are offered in May. Call

for appointment.

Breast Cancer Screening, Capital Health System,

Women’s Breast Center, Mercer Campus, 446 Bellevue Avenue, Trenton,

609-394-4045. Breast examination and mammogram program held throughout

the month of May. Pre-register, $40.

Mammogram Cards are available from the American Cancer

Society at 3076 Princeton Pike. These complimentary Mother’s Day cards

can encourage a mother, a grandmother, sister, aunt, or friend to

get an annual mammogram. Call 609-895-0101.

Let’s Talk About It, Princeton YWCA, Paul Robeson

Place, 609-497-2100. "Helping Children Cope When a Parent Has

Cancer," a workshop for parents with cancer, their partners, and

their children, ages 6-12. Thursday, May 6, 6 p.m.

NJN Public Television, Julie Goldman, an advocate for

breast cancer patients, with Steve Adubato. Saturday, May 8,

at 7:30 a.m., repeating Sunday, May 9, at 10 a.m. . Part II is


and Sunday, May 15 and 16.

The Ultimate Drive, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer

Foundation ,

Princeton BMW, 3466 Route 1, 609-452-9400. An all-day


event involves a fleet of 18 specially-marked silver and


BMWs. Thursday, June 3, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Nancy Brinker established the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation

in 1982 to honor the memory of her sister, who died from breast cancer

when she was 36 years old. This national organization has a network

of volunteers working to advance research, education, screening, and


The picture of a Princeton "Hero" will be put on one of the

cars to be signed by thousands of participants. As the drive


these photos will form a collage of what Brinker says will be "an

ever-growing collage of the real people who are making a difference

in each drive."

For a minimum donation of $5, participants can bring photographs,

pressed flowers, or other tokens that can be added to the banner,

and each will also receive a breast cancer ribbon pin. For every mile

that the cars are driven, BMW will donate $1 to the Komen Foundation.

The firm’s goal is raise $1 million this year. For information call

Princeton BMW at 609-452-9400 or go to


Race for the Cure, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer


Breast Cancer Resource Center, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Route 206,


More than 7,000 runners and walkers, 1,000 children, plus breast


survivors, volunteers, and spectators help raise money for research.

Call to participate, volunteer, or sponsor. Sunday, October 10.

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