June 03, 2019
Hortobagyi honored by ASCO for his work against breast cancer
BY Scott Merville
Improvements in breast cancer treatment over the past five decades have reduced the mortality rate of women with the disease by 40 percent and improved the quality of life of patients, MD Anderson expert Gabriel Hortobagyi, M.D., professor of Breast Medical Oncology noted in a lecture at the 2019 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting.
Hortobagyi spoke as this year’s winner of the David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award, bestowed annually by ASCO to recognize an oncologist who has made outstanding contributions to cancer research, diagnosis, and/or treatment.
In announcing the honor earlier this year, ASCO noted Hortobagyi’s “career, which spans more than 40 years, has focused on clinical and translational research, as well as teaching and mentoring the next generation of scientists and academic leadership. He is one of the world's leading authorities on the management of breast cancer.”
Hortobagyi, who also holds the Nellie B. Connally Chair in Breast Cancer, and directs the Susan G. Komen Interdisciplinary Breast Fellowship Program at MD Anderson, spoke during the opening session of the meeting Saturday.
Advances in scientific understanding of breast cancer, breast cancer diagnosis, and expansion of treatment options beyond surgery and radiation to include targeted therapies have all played a role, he noted. The genetic and molecular heterogeneity of breast cancer remains a challenge being addressed by research and clinical trials.
Hortobagyi has authored more than 1,000 scientific articles and is credited with leading pioneering advances in treating the disease, including combination chemotherapies for inoperable tumors and multidisciplinary care for patients at all disease stages.
His many innovative contributions to the field include:
- An early study that gave chemotherapy before surgery to breast cancer patients with locally advanced tumors showed most large tumors could be reduced by at least 50% with the preoperative chemotherapy and then removed surgically.
- Led the clinical development of anthracyclines and taxanes as breast cancer treatment.
- More recently, he has focused his research on combining endocrine therapy with targeted agents, leading development of the mTOR inhibitor everolimus and the clinical development of CDK4/6 inhibitors, including ribociclib.
Hortobagyi developed, implemented, and chaired the MONALEESA-2 phase III trial, assessing the efficacy and safety of ribociclib in combination with letrozole in patients with hormone receptor-positive metastatic breast cancer. Overall survival data on that trial was highlighted Saturday morning at ASCO.