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The Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber: Creating Powerful Possibilities

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A clinician and a scientist meet on the bridge that connects the research and patient-care buildings to discuss how a laboratory finding might benefit patients. A young woman, newly diagnosed with breast cancer, finds solace in a support program of her peers. A young investigator identifies molecular subtypes of ovarian cancer.

These are just a few of the powerful possibilities the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber creates by bridging compassionate care and world-class basic and clinical research. This edition of Turning Point shares stories like these, and others. Innovators in Women’s Cancers Innovation occurs when experts in breast and gynecologic cancers collaborate on key initiatives, sharing their knowledge, research, and clinical expertise. Read about new grants for research. Innovation occurs when cancers are identified by their genetic signatures as well as the location of the primary tumor, making precise therapies available. For example, Susan F. Smith Center scientists have learned that triple-negative breast cancer and high-grade serous ovarian cancer have a number of genetic similarities.

Innovation occurs when scientists study the origins of tumors through a bank of blood and tumor tissue donated by patients. The Tissue Resource for Research, which includes samples donated by patients with breast, ovarian, or endometrial cancer, builds a growing body of information for investigators and collaborating scientists from across the U.S. and around the world.
Patient-Centered Science
Medical research often unfolds in laboratories miles away from the patients it will help. At the Susan F. Smith Center, these two enterprises – research and patient care – are only steps apart, allowing scientists and clinicians to easily collaborate. An enclosed bridge connects clinical units in the Yawkey Center for Cancer Care with corresponding basic science areas in the Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Research Laboratories. This proximity spurs translational research that converts scientific advances into new treatments. In some cases, the laboratory scientist and the clinician are the same person. Meet Panos Konstantinopoulos, MD, PhD.

Clinical trials – in which the safety and efficacy of new drugs are tested in patients – are links in the chain of discovery and development, critical to the introduction of novel therapies. The Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers is currently conducting nearly 90 clinical trials.
Scientists are inspired by knowing that their efforts could save or improve the lives of patients who might be close by – or a world away. Similarly, clinicians can easily consult with basic scientists to better understand the molecular mechanisms behind a certain type of cancer or treatment.

Circle of Care
The Susan F. Smith Center is a place of hope and action, where patients have a full spectrum of conveniences that nourish body, mind, and spirit, and help ease the burden of cancer on their lives. From the moment a woman arrives for her first appointment to the day her treatment ends, our goal is to surround her with a circle of support, all along the way. For example, young women with breast cancer can join a program that helps them address challenges such as planning or raising a family, dating, or launching a career.
Women with metastatic breast cancer can attend forums to hear about the latest therapies, meet the experts, learn about supportive resources, and, best of all, meet other women in similar circumstances.

Friends’ Place offers women practical items, such as surgical bras and camisoles, and comfort items, such as books and journals. Throughout her experience, a patient can return to find products and advice to enhance her appearance and build her confidence. The circle of care assures each woman that she is not alone.

Note from Bakes for Breast Cancer.  This issue DFCI Turning Point is about the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers. We feel it is important to share this issue with you in our blog.  Our money supports some of the breast cancer research being done at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers.

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