I am a board-certified medical oncologist and work as part of a multidisciplinary team to care for patients with breast cancer. In my clinical research I focus on developing more-effective and less-toxic treatment strategies for women with this disease.
My particular interest is in evaluating combination therapies that include anti-HER2 drugs such as a biologic agent (trastuzumab) and a targeted agent (lapatinib). I first led a trial to combine trastuzumab with dose-dense chemotherapy, in which highly active chemotherapy drugs were given with less time between treatments than in a standard chemotherapy treatment plan. The results of this study were practice-changing; they led to the wide-spread use of a dose-dense chemotherapy regimen with trastuzumab in patients with HER2/neu-positive breast cancer. Building on this, I then led a second study incorporating lapatinib into a regimen very similar to the first study. The findings of this second study were also practice-changing, and had an impact on ongoing, large randomized trials of lapatinib. I am also launching an upcoming trial in patients with recurrent HER2/neu-positive breast cancer of another biologic agent (pertuzumab) in combination with standard drugs.
New therapies have greatly improved the prognosis for many breast cancer patients, but some treatments produce side effects that appear years after the completion of treatment. My colleagues and I are working to develop markers to identify the patients who may be at risk of developing early, and possibly late, complications such as heart damage so that we can design early interventions to prevent these side effects — for example, by adding a cardiac drug to treatment to minimize heart problems in the future.