Dr. Erica Stringer-Reasor shares her expertise on precision medicine advancements in breast cancer
Dr. Erica Stringer-Reasor is an expert in the field of breast cancer and a fast-rising star in cancer research and Assistant Professor of Hematology Oncology at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. In honor of breast cancer awareness month, Dr. Stringer-Reasor joins us to discuss how breast cancer has led the way in the adoption of precision medicine.
Before discussing the evolution of breast cancer treatment, Dr. Stringer-Reasor reminds us how prevalent the disease is by sharing these staggering statistics:
One in eight women in the United States are affected with breast cancer, and nearly 268,000 new cases of breast cancer are expected to occur in 2019 alone.
These powerful numbers set the stage for our conversation, because the very reason breast cancer has spurred so many landmark drug developments over the last few decades is that it affects so many women.
Stringer-Reasor says the sense of urgency around the disease has created a necessity to keep looking for more targeted ways to improve patient outcomes. As a result, there have been a considerable number of clinical trials in metastatic breast cancer across different subtypes. She notes that a quarter of breast cancer patients will have a relapse, so many of those trials focus on finding more targeted therapies to treat patients with late-stage disease. But as precision medicine enables researchers to more effectively target drugs and compensate differences among patients and patient populations, Dr. Stringer-Reasor thinks that information may lead to more proactive therapies for early-stage patients.
The challenge, Stringer-Reasor points out, is that the majority of patients are currently seen in rural or community hospitals without access to the research hospitals where trials are performed. She says that those larger academic institutions will need to focus more on driving community accessibility to keep precision medicine moving forward. In essence, they need to bring clinical trials to the patients, instead of expecting patients to come to them.
Listen to the full episode above which includes a detailed discussion about pharmacogenetics and the ways in which it can complement genomic testing to help more patients.
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