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Featured Giving Opportunity: Breast Cancer Care and Research

When wife and mother Maha Ditsch was diagnosed in December 2011, she was shocked. She had no family history of breast cancer and knew almost nothing about the disease. Her sister, a physician, spoke with a colleague who said, “If she were my wife, I would advise her to go to Rush.”

Maha called Rush and was able to meet with a surgeon, oncologist and radiologist the next day. Her team of doctors developed a comprehensive treatment plan right away, reassuring Maha and her family that they did not have to face cancer alone.

“Thanks to my doctors at Rush,” Maha said, “I am a breast cancer survivor.”

The impact of breast cancer

Each year, more than 232,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed. These patients need the kind of targeted, personalized treatment plans that we now know are most effective. Because each person’s cancer is individual to her own genetic signature, researchers are left to determine how genetics plays a role and how we can target therapies based on individuals’ genes and tumors’ unique signatures.

Support of clinical trials and laboratory research through Rush’s Breast Cancer Research Fund helps investigators stop the disease’s resistance to treatment; improve patients’ quality of life; engineer and deliver more personalized, less invasive treatment options; and maybe even predict and mediate breast cancer risk.

How research shapes care

Drs. Katherine Griem and Melody Cobleigh, breast cancer experts at RushPatients like Maha become survivors thanks in part to decades of careful research.

Today’s approaches to breast cancer care have evolved through years of careful clinical trials, laboratory research and population-based studies. Much of this research — work that informs care worldwide — has been performed at Rush. Here, clinicians and laboratory scientists work hand-in-hand to take research from the bench to the patient bedside and back again.

Clinical trials at Rush have led to several widely used, FDA-approved breast cancer therapies, and Melody Cobleigh, MD, director of medical oncology at Rush, has been instrumental in advancing the treatment of all stages of breast cancer. Clinicians and laboratory scientists at Rush continue to seek highly effective therapies, surgical techniques, personalized approaches and biomarkers to predict the disease before it manifests. Your donation to breast cancer research at Rush can help make their vision a reality.

Areas where you can make a difference:

Paving the way to personalized medicine

Researchers at Rush are working to identify genetic alterations that create resistance to Herceptin in up to 80 percent of HER2-positive patients. Additionally, researchers at Rush are working to find targeted treatments for triple negative breast cancer and other breast cancers in which genetic mutations leave patients ineligible for existing targeted therapies.

Through numerous ongoing clinical trials, like the current study of an investigational drug combined with chemotherapy for women with the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 mutations, patients at Rush receive access to the latest, most promising therapies — often before they’re widely available.

Surgical advances to improve quality of life

Treatment innovation is seen in the close collaboration between surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists and medical oncologists. Through a clinical trial at Rush, women with early-stage breast cancer may now receive one precise, concentrated dose of radiation to the tumor site at the same time as lumpectomy surgery. This procedure may save healthy tissues and spare patients from the three-to-six weeks of daily radiation treatments that typically follow lumpectomies.

Many breast cancer patients face invasive surgeries that may alter their physical appearance. By pursuing breast conservation and other innovative breast oncoplastic techniques, surgeons at Rush attempt to minimize the cosmetic impact of breast cancer surgery and preserve patients’ self-esteem.

How you can give to breast cancer care and research at Rush

To donate or learn more about supporting breast cancer care and research at Rush, contact Kristin Stewart, director of development, at kristin_stewart@rush.edu or (312) 942-3517.

Or support breast cancer care and research by making a gift online.

Want to learn more about breast cancer care and research and giving to Rush?