Fall 2018 Breakthroughs Message From The Director

October 12, 2018
By: MIchael B. Kastan, MD, PhD

FACING TOUGH PROBLEMS, HEAD-ON

At Duke Cancer Institute, inspired by the bravery of our patients, we don’t shrink from even the most daunting challenges. We tackle them head-on.

For example, it is a challenging situation when tumors spread to the brain or spine, and we are seeing this situation more often nowadays as people are living longer with many types of cancer.

Current treatments for brain and spinal metastases are inadequate and often toxic. At Duke, we are focusing on this condition by offering patients fast access to multidisciplinary care and working to develop treatments that are more effective and less debilitating.

In other stories in this issue, learn how Andrew Berchuck, MD, and colleagues are trying to stop ovarian cancer from catching women unawares. The disease is much more treatable when caught at an earlier stage, but for most women, there are not reliable screening options. Berchuck is trying to change that. He and others have been working on this problem for years, and he may not see it solved during his career. But he’s not giving up.

You’ll also read about how being unafraid to treat patients with once-mysterious familial breast and ovarian cancer syndromes has led Noah Kauff, MD, to make major discoveries regarding how to reduce cancer risk for these women.

With you on our side, we’ll solve even more intractable problems like these. Please join us.

Michael B. Kastan, MD, PhD
Executive Director, Duke Cancer Institute,
William and Jane Shingleton Professor,
Pharmacology and Cancer Biology
Professor of Pediatrics

This message appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of Breakthroughs, a magazine produced twice yearly by Duke Cancer Institute Office of Development. Subscribe to Breakthroughs

In This Issue 

STOPPING A STEALTH DISEASE By Angela Spivey  
Survivors, family members, and researchers have been working together for more than a decade to detect ovarian cancer earlier and educate women about its signs. Read

Emerging options for Gynecologic Cancers By Angela Spivey 
Women with gynecological cancers have more treatment options than ever. Currently, Duke has 15 clinical trials open for women with gynecologic cancers, including ovarian, endometrial, or cervical cancer. Read

IN THE GENES By Whitney J. Palmer
You learn you have a genetic history of cancer. Now what? Noah Kauff, MD, is at the forefront of answering that question, especially for women's cancers. Read

GUAGING RISK By Whitney J. Palmer
Led by breast surgeon and Assistant Professor of Surgery Jennifer Plichta, MD, MS, Duke’s Breast Risk Assessment Clinic helps women learn about their individual likelihood for developing the disease. Read

Machine Learning By Whitney J. Palmer 
For women with ductal carcinoma in situ, a form of low-risk breast cancer, Duke researchers are working to use “machine learning” to reduce unnecessary follow-up breast imaging and offer some women less-invasive treatment optionsRead

FIGHTING MELANOMA WITH TEAM TOM By Miriam Sauls
It would be hard to find a more affable person than longtime Durham resident Tom Drew. Even as he's being treated for advanced melanoma, he is determined to find humor and make new friends. Read

Forward Steps

BLURRING THE RACIAL LINES ON PROSTATE CANCER By Jessica Hyland
An increased survival benefit for black men with advanced prostate cancer and a stronger response to hormone therapy were the centerpieces of racial disparity studies presented by researchers from Duke’s Prostate & Urologic Cancer Center. Read

SUSAN DENT JOINS DCI TO CO-LEAD CARDIO-ONCOLOGY
Susan Dent, MD, FRCPC, joined Duke Cancer Institute in September 2018 to co-lead Duke’s efforts in cardio-oncology—a discipline focused on the intersection of heart disease and cancer. Read