My Breast Cancer Destination: San Antonio

PJ Hamel Health Guide
  • If you’re like me, you may have heard your oncologist or hem/onc nurse mention San Antonio. “Oh, wait a minute, we can’t schedule you that week, your doctor’s in San Antonio.” Or, “We’re expecting to hear the results of a pretty exciting new clinical trial while we’re in San Antonio…”

    Now, I know San Antonio as the yeast bread capital of Texas, because that’s the field I’m in: baking. History buffs know it as the site of an epic standoff called the Alamo. But to the breast cancer community, San Antonio means just one thing: the annual Charles A. Coltman, Jr. San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, held each year in December.
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    The objective of the symposium, according to its Web site, is “to provide state-of-the-art information on the experimental biology, etiology, prevention, diagnosis, and therapy of breast cancer and premalignant breast disease, to an international audience of academic and private physicians and researchers.” And, from the number of times I see San Antonio mentioned in press releases involving breast cancer research, and hear my oncologist refer to it (he’s a brilliant fellow, up on all the cutting-edge research), I know it must be living up to its hype.

    OK, this is all very interesting, you might think, but what does it have to do with me?

    Everything. Did you hear about the huge decline in breast cancer rates between August 2002 and December 2003, a drop of 15% in just 16 months, reportedly the biggest decline in any specific type of cancer in any one year–ever? It was headlined December 15 in the New York Times, but the story broke December 14 in San Antonio, when lead investigator Peter Ravdin, M.D., of the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas detailed the results of his group’s study to symposium participants. And how about the rumors we’ve been hearing lately that aromatase inhibitorsArimidex, Femara, Aromasin–so many of us are taking might come with side effects more severe than what anyone had expected? Subject of several presentations in San Antonio. And then there’s that exciting rumor about a breast cancer vaccine–yup, San Antonio.

    Like anyone attending a professional conference in his or her area of expertise, I’m sure the participants enjoy getting away from the office (or hospital) and spending time with like-minded colleagues. It’s neat to see folks you probably only see once a year, socialize a bit, maybe see some local sights. I’m looking forward to the Gourmet Show in Orlando this May. The difference is, the networking I do is all about food, kitchen tools, and the exciting new recipes I’ve been reading and developing. The networking the folks at the San Antonio symposium do focuses on you and me, on curing this dreadful disease that hangs over us, and making the future safer for women everywhere. Quite a difference. Bottom line, there’s a lot of awfully good stuff going on in San Antonio in December, besides Christmas shopping on the River Walk.

Published On: January 22, 2007