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Surveillance Markers of Utility for Recurrence After (Neo)adjuvant Therapy for Breast Cancer

The purpose of this research is to study markers in the blood or bone marrow that could help us predict which patients are at increased risk of their cancer returning and in doing so, identify those who would benefit from additional targeted treatment.

Video courtesy of Mzizi Media

Our researchers have identified a type of cell that can remain in a dormant, or sleeping state in the body for years or even decades before ultimately coming back to cause metastatic disease. These sleeping, or dormant cells are fundamentally different than the cells in the original tumor and the one that recurs. Therefore, these dormant cells require different and novel treatment approaches. Currently, the best way to determine if a patient has any dormant tumor cells in their body is to look for the presence of disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) that reside in the bone marrow.

There are two ways to enroll in our SURMOUNT research program

  1. The Penn-SURMOUNT Screening study enrolls women who have completed primary treatment for non-metastatic breast cancer and are within 5 years of their original breast cancer diagnosis. In this study we are using a screening test to look for DTCs in the bone marrow. For women who are found to have DTCs in the bone marrow, we are launching clinical trials that are aimed at targeting and destroying these cells to eliminate the pool of dormant cells that could potentially give rise to a recurrent cancer. Patients who harbor DTCs will be offered the opportunity for enrollment into these clinical trials with the ultimate goal of preventing breast cancer recurrence.
  2. The ISPY-SURMOUNT study enrolls women who are receiving neoadjuvant (pre-operative) chemotherapy for primary breast cancer on the I-SPY 2 TRIAL (NCT01042379) and are planning to undergo breast surgery to remove any remaining tumor at the completion of chemotherapy. Blood and bone marrow samples are taken at the time of breast surgery and additional blood samples are collected at routine annual checkups with your oncologist.

In addition, the bone marrow, blood and tumor samples collected in the SURMOUNT studies are being used to develop a better, more accurate test for DTCs than the one that currently exists, and to better understand what DTCs are and how they can be best treated. Ultimately, the results of this research may improve the treatment and prevention of breast cancer in the future.

Am I a Candidate?

For more information, and to learn if you are a candidate, call 215-349-5730 and ask for the SURMOUNT study coordinator or project manager.