Multidisciplinary frontiers in breast cancer management

A surgeon's perspective


  • S. Eva Singletary MD

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Surgical Oncology, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas
    • Department of Surgical Oncology, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Box 444, Houston TX 77030-4095
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The current paradigm of breast cancer management may be altered significantly over the coming years by the adoption of new treatment schema and devices outside of the surgical arena. New advances in breast cancer imaging will improve our ability to detect early-stage disease but also will assist in monitoring treatment outcomes and support the development of nonsurgical ablation techniques. These advances, some already in use, include a 3-dimensional adaptation of digital mammography, color Doppler ultrasonography that can visualize neovascularization in growing tumors, contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging with improved accuracy for the detection of occult cancers, a specialized approach to positron emission tomography designed for use on the breast, and the development of nanoparticle contrast agents that can be visualized with near-infrared light. Systemic therapy, which revolutionized breast cancer management in the last half of the 20th century, is being reconceptualized, with attention turning to adjusting the timing of chemotherapy. Dose-dense regimens are being tested, and there also is interest in so-called metronomic chemotherapy in which very low doses are given on a very frequent schedule, resulting in reduced toxicity and treatment outcomes that reflect an antiangiogenic mode of action. Finally, the possibility of a breast cancer vaccine continues to intrigue and excite physicians and patients alike, with the promise of enlisting the body's own immune system to seek out and destroy cancer cells and/or prevent the development of future disease. It will be important for surgeons to stay aware of all developments that may improve the care of their patients and to be true surgical oncologists rather than merely surgical technicians. Cancer 2007. © 2007 American Cancer Society.