The 2015 Miami Breast Cancer Conference Agenda: What’s New and What to Expect

BY Sarah Digiulio

Genetic susceptibility panel testing, neoadjuvant endocrine therapy, and immunotherapy strategies all make the agenda for this year’s Miami Breast Cancer Conference—the 32nd Annual. But unlike other meetings that focus on brand new research, most of the sessions in Miami will be short-format talks with speakers discussing instead how to use those new advances.

“It’s the practical lessons: How does this impact your practice? Does it? Is this ready for prime time? Is it too early for prime time?” Conference Chair Patrick Borgen, MD, Chair of the Department of Surgery at Maimonides Medical Center and Director of the Brooklyn Breast Cancer Center at the Maimonides Cancer Center in Brooklyn, New York, said in a phone interview. It’s the same model the meeting has followed for its more than three decade history, and according to Borgen, is one of the reasons behind the meeting’s longstanding success. Such sessions allow physicians and researchers to better understand how to integrate the new research in their fields in their work and use it to help their patients, he said.

“This field changes on a week-to-week, month-to-month basis. For example, with new agents, there are only very restricted clinical scenarios where some of these drugs are actually approved,” Borgen explained. “That’s where Miami plays a role. [The meeting includes] the people that did the research and the people who wrote the guidelines saying, ‘this is how I integrate this into my practice’—that’s the gem—our motto has always been ‘hear it on Friday, use it on Monday.’”

Fresh Perspectives

Though some topics get revisited year after year, the perspective from the podium is never the same two years in a row. Borgen along with the Conference’s three Program Directors select the faculty of speakers each year, based largely on feedback from meeting-goers, Borgen noted—but no one speaker is invited to speak two years in a row.

“There is always a fresh perspective and a fresh take on a problem,” he added. “We want to keep the meeting as practical as possible.”

The Conference Program Directors are: J. Michael Dixon, MD, OBE Professor of Surgery & Consultant Surgeon and Clinical Director of the Breakthrough Research Unit in the Edinburgh Breast Unit; Hyman B. Muss, MD, Professor of Oncology at the University of North Carolina and Director of Geriatric Oncology at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center; and Debu Tripathy, MD, Professor of Medicine and Chair of the Department of Breast Medical Oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Another update started at last year’s conference was to have a clinical case presented at the beginning of each lecture along with a question about that case, Borgen said. “The speaker will attempt to use his or her knowledge, along with the available data, to provide the best answer to the question.” Members of the audience are polled again after the lecture and can see how their answers compare to their colleagues’ answers.

New & Pertinent Topics

There are several new topics on the conference agenda this year, along with updates on recurring debates in the field, Borgen also noted. For the first time in the meeting’s history, there will be a series of lectures on pain and pain management, which include several specialists talking about pain after surgery, utilizing new agents that provide local anesthesia for days, and metastatic breast cancer pain (Thurs., Feb. 26, 3:15 pm; Fri., Feb. 27, 2:50 pm, 3:05 pm, 3:20 pm; Sat., Feb. 28, 3:35 pm; and Sun., Mar. 1, 8:30 am).

There is a session on new immunotherapies that will also focus on new, effective breast cancer vaccines, he noted (Sat., Feb. 28, noon: “Is Immunotherapy Ready for Prime Time in Breast Cancer? Update on All Immuno Strategies”). And there will be talks on: a new staging system for breast cancer (Fri., Feb. 27, 8:15 am: “Incorporating Tumor Biology Into an Improved Staging System for Breast Cancer”); emerging agents like Paclociclib and others (Sat., Feb. 28, 3:05 pm: “Late-Breaking News From the Breast Cancer Research Front”); the mammography debate (Fri., Feb. 27, 8 am: “The Never-Ending Controversy Over Screening Mammography: Enough is Enough”); and the overdiagnosis and overtreatment of ductal carcinoma in situ (Fri., Feb. 27, 2:05 pm: “DCIS: Predicting Local Recurrence After Local Excision Without Radiation Using Genomic Profiling”; and Sat., Feb. 28, 8 am: “Overdiagnosis and Overtreatment of Breast Cancer: What is the Reality”).

Sunrise Sessions

Also new on the Miami agenda this year are two Sunrise Sessions. These sessions are longer than the conference’s other short-format talks allowing more discussion, Borgen said.

The first is a video clinic, which includes video presentations of several unique surgical cases (Sat., Feb. 28, 6:45 am). Audience members are presented with the case and asked how they would tackle it—and then a video of the actual operation is shown.

The second Sunrise Session is a discussion of how to best use social media to build an oncology practice, grow a practice, and maintain contact with patients (Sun., Mar. 1, 7 am). The discussion will be led by Deanna Attai, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, known in the social media world for her leadership in the Breast Cancer Social Media community (#BCSM, bcsmcommunity.org), including her role as co-moderator of the #bcsmchat every Monday evening (featured in OT’s award-winning Profiles in Oncology Social Media series: 12/25/13 issue).

Breast Cancer Survivor Joan Lunden to Deliver Keynote

Finally, this year’s agenda features journalist and author Joan Lunden, a former host of Good Morning America and a breast cancer survivor, who will deliver the keynote address (Sat., Feb. 28, 10:45 am). She will be highlighting her journey and will stay for a question and answer session after the talk, Borgen said.

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