AACR Scientist<->Survivor Program Review by Ashley

The American Association for Cancer Research had it’s annual meeting in New Orleans this year the second week of April. I was lucky to be part of the Scientist<->Survivor Program. For the SS Program, we were paired with a group of other advocates, a mentor and a scientist or doctor. I really enjoyed my group and learned so many things about the work of cancer research, some of which was over my head! We had a mini-med school session where we learned about the basic science behind what causes cancer to develop in our bodies, cells mutating and our immune system not being able to fight off the bad cells (in a nutshell). There were all sorts of educational sessions on pretty much every topic in the world of cancer and cancer research; poster sessions on all the latest information, advancements and clinical trials; vendor booths from different pharmaceutical companies, laboratories, new technology, genomics, research agencies; and an advocate’s section where we could all go and see who was there from different non-profits and advocacy groups and more! To say there were not enough hours in the day to attend all the sessions and see all that the conference had to offer is an understatement.

While I was there, I went to a few poster sessions on breast cancer and the latest research and advocacy groups. The poster that I found the most fascinating and promising was “Predicting response to treatment in early breast cancer using dynamic integrative multi-omic profiling” by a group of doctors from University of Cambridge, Cancer Research UK/Cambridge Institute and Royal College of Physicians. It was about predicting the response to treatment using pre-therapy static biomarkers and on-therapy dynamic biomarkers for women with triple negative breast cancer. They found links to the women’s immune system and tumor markers (biomarkers) to predict if she would have a PCR (pathological complete response) or RCB-I (residual cancer burden, minimal), RCB-II (moderate burden) or RCB-III (extensive burden). If they found that the women would not a good response to treatment, RCB-III, then the patient and doctor could talk about alternative treatments, clinical trials and other options. I found this absolutely fascinating! Who wouldn’t want to know, before treatment, what their likely outcome would be to chemotherapy?!