In Memory of Sandra Shih
I'm raising money for critical breast cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering—where new discoveries are revolutionizing how cancer is diagnosed and treated, particularly in young patients with advanced disease like Sandra. Join me in making a difference by donating today!
Donors Fuel Progress
When you give to MSK, you're making a direct impact: from innovative research that can move newly discovered drugs into clinical trials, to the cancer treatment and care patients receive every day.
Fundraising efforts can lead to important and life-changing breakthroughs in cancer research—making it possible for scientists to overcome the hurdles of funding gaps. Philanthropy provides the tools they need to swiftly pursue promising research initiatives.
MSK Leads Cancer Care
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in women in the United States—with an estimated 268,600 new cases in 2019. Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) cares for more people with breast cancer than any other hospital in the country. The Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center is home to more than 80 board-certified physicians who collaborate with nurses and other healthcare professionals to treat all types of malignancies.
In parallel, MSK’s scientists study every aspect of breast cancer: from more accurate ways to detect it and methods to reduce unpleasant complications of surgery; to novel studies of drug resistance and the development of better anticancer drugs for disease that has spread, or metastasized, throughout the body.
Much of our research involves the application of precision medicine: identifying genetic mutations causing a person’s cancer, and targeting them with specialized drugs. Tumor samples are run through a technology called MSK-IMPACT™, which detects any of the 468 cancer-causing genetic mutations. Results are immediately applied to inform the direction of therapy. Below are some highlights of recent progress.
- While immunotherapy has worked well in many cancers, this approach has only helped a fraction of women with breast cancer. Using a new technology called single-cell RNA sequencing, the team of George Plitas, MD, Dana Pe’er, PhD, and Alexander Rudensky, PhD, simultaneously analyzed tens of thousands of cells so they could be characterized individually. By seeing how immune cells interacted with other cells in the “microenvironment,” they observed cell states with small differences between them—suggesting that while infections can unify the T cells to come together and fight, cancer leads to a very heterogeneous response.
- A phase III trial led by MSK’s Mark Robson, MD, led to the 2018 FDA approval of the drug olaparib (Lynparza®) for women with BRCA-positive, HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer who have been previously treated with chemotherapy. Olaparib is one of a new class of drugs called PARP inhibitors, which is also being tested against other BRCA-driven malignancies, such as pancreas and prostate cancer.
- Numerous research projects are underway to examine how and why tumors adapt or stop responding to targeted therapy. For example, in women with HER2 positive breast cancer, Sarat Chandarlapaty, MD, PhD, is studying the role of genetic mutations (such as NF1) in promoting resistance—and how another gene could be used to prevent or overcome this obstacle.
- To better understand why hormone therapy stops working for some women with estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer, Pedram Razavi, MD, PhD, examined the genomics of 1,500+ patients. They uncovered several alternations affecting various pathways that can impact the drugs’ efficacy—key information that could be used to guide women toward more-effective treatments.
- Atif Jalees Khan, MD, MS, is leading a pilot study to explore how a form of radiation—called 3-D lattice radiation therapy—can influence or boost the effect of immunotherapy, and, by extension, local and distant response rates in patients with advanced, metastatic disease.
Today we have an unprecedented opportunity to change the lives of countless women who are impacted by breast cancer. Philanthropy is crucial to driving this momentum. We thank you for your generous support of breast cancer research at MSK.
Your gift supports the best and brightest researchers in their work to outsmart cancer. These innovative thinkers are focused on fighting every form of the disease. The close collaboration between MSK's doctors and researchers is unique and one of its greatest strengths—ensuring that drugs and therapies developed in the lab can be moved quickly to the clinic.
Together, we can join the leaders in cancer research by funding a future with better outcomes for people with cancer and their families—not just at MSK, but around the world.
Every dollar brings more hope. Thank you!
Jon, Sydney, and Hazel