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We need to get tumour tissue throughout the course of the disease because we know that its biological characteristics can evolve. Our surgeons, pathologists and radiologists understand this and collaborate closely with us. PrOF MArtine PiCCArt, Head of the Medicine Department

the Future The Institute’s internationally renowned breast cancer research team has acquired expertise in high-throughput technologies such as tissue-microarrays, gene-arrays, CGH-arrays, microRNA-arrays and bioinformatics analysis, and is continually expanding its knowledge and experience. For example, the team has generated a significant body of knowledge on the oestrogen receptor, on the interaction between breast cancer cells and the bone microenvironment and, more recently, on the molecular classification of breast cancer. Current areas of interest include the relationship between the primary tumour, adjacent lymph nodes, circulating tumour cells and bone-narrow micrometastases: mapping the genetic events along this route carries the hope for new and more effective therapies to prevent the development of overt metastatic disease.

research Breast cancer clinical, translational and basic research

Powerful new technologies – such as gene microarrays that provide information about whether thousands of genes in an individual tumour are “expressed” or not – are increasingly incorporated into many studies run by the Medical Oncology Clinic. The hope is to accelerate the transition from empirical oncology (all patients receive the same type of treatment) to molecular oncology (each patient receives the treatment that is most adapted to the genetic make-up of her/his tumour).

The laboratory scientists at the Institute work hand-in-hand with clinicians who treat patients in order to improve treatment tailoring, but they are also involved in basic research aimed at better understanding the disease itself. New, powerful technology platforms are now available to allow researchers to dissect the important molecular pathways involved in cancer growth, invasion and metastases.

recent eVolution Multidisciplinarity in breast cancer patient care has been a reality at the Institute for many years, and is now spreading with the creation of breast clinics throughout Belgium.

Managing advanced cancers. In advanced breast cancer, multidisciplinarity plays a key role in managing the disease. The goal of treatment in this case is to slow disease progression, alleviate symptoms and maintain quality of life.

Maintaining quality of life. Adequate symptom control and maintenance of quality of life require the intervention of experts in pain control, nutrition and psychosocial support. To this end, the medical team works closely with experts in the Psycho-oncology Clinic, contributing to the optimal follow up of an increasingly number of breast cancer survivors.