What are the newest breast cancer treatments?

The area's top oncologists, surgeons and healthcare professionals will provide the latest news in the fight against breast cancer when Wellness House presents Hot Topics in Breast Cancer Saturday, June 22.

Following a half hour of gentle yoga, participants in the daylong event will hear about the latest advances in breast cancer treatment and research from an expert panel from 9 to 11 a.m. Among the panelists is Nan Chen of UChicago Medicine, who will provide updates about medical oncology, including the use of chemotherapy.

"There really have been a lot of exciting things happening in the last couple of years," said Chen, who trained at New York Medical College, Baylor College of Medicine Medical Center and the Texas Children's Hospital.

A board-certified hematologist/oncologist, Chen treats patients with all forms of breast cancer and has expertise in high-risk cases. Her practice combines the use of chemotherapy, targeted therapy and endocrine therapy with novel therapies found through clinical trials to create individualized treatment plans for every patient.

Having recently attended an annual conference at American Society of Clinical Oncology's annual meeting at McCormick Place, Chen said she is encouraged by new tools in the fight against breast cancer, as well as new ways in which doctors are using existing medicines and treatments.

Enhertu, for example, is a drug generally used to treat cancers involving the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), which is present in varying levels in some forms of breast cancer. New studies, Chen said, show promise for patients who have HER2-low or -ultralow cancers.

Antibody drug conjugates and immunotherapy aren't new to the treatment of breast cancer, but they are treatments that are still being studied as doctors and researchers discover their full potential.

"We're still really trying to understand both of those categories of drugs," Chen said.

She's also encouraged by advances in the use of tools to monitor and measure the effectiveness of treatments, including what she called a liquid biopsy. Rather than undergo regular surgical biopsies, more women can now use blood tests to measure the amount of tumor shedding.

In addition to one-on-one treatment of breast cancer, Chen has managed several trials and works closely with researchers at the University of Chicago to develop tools that investigate treatment response or resistance.

Chen said she chose oncology as her specialty because of the impact she can have on women.

"We really have a lot of options in breast cancer," she said, and knowing about those options can be empowering and encouraging.

This is the first time since 2020 that Hot Topics in Breast Cancer has been held in person at Wellness House. The event is free and open to anyone who has breast cancer or is affected by the disease.

Wellness House presents additional Hot Topics events throughout the year, including prostate cancer in September, blood cancers in November and colorectal cancer in March. For registration details, turn to Page 20.

- by Sandy Illian Bosch

Author Bio

Sandy Illian Bosch is a contributing writer to The Hinsdalean