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VCU Massey Cancer Center


Making progress against breast cancer

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, learn about the many ways VCU Massey Cancer Center is making progress in the prevention and treatment of breast cancer and ways in which you can celebrate and support these advances. A National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, VCU Massey is helping to lead and shape the nation’s fight against breast and other cancers.


Every day VCU Massey Cancer Center is discovering new and better ways to treat and prevent breast and other cancers. Here are three of the latest discoveries in breast cancer.

New standard of care developed for young women with hormone-sensitive breast cancer
VCU Massey Cancer Center physician-researcher Charles Geyer, M.D., co-authored practice-changing, international research on breast cancer that involved a combination of two large, international phase 3 clinical trials, which found that a drug known as exemestane is more effective than tamoxifen at preventing breast cancer recurrence in young women with hormone-sensitive breast cancer, a common type of breast cancer. This landmark study is the first to demonstrate that taking exemestane while blocking ovarian function reduces cancer recurrence in young women with hormone-receptive breast cancer. These results provide a new treatment option for premenopausal women formerly available only to postmenopausal women. Learn more

Microsurgery offers breast reconstructive benefits
VCU Massey Cancer Center is one of the few medical facilities in the Richmond area to offer microsurgical breast reconstruction for breast cancer patients who have had a mastectomy. Microsurgical breast reconstruction provides several benefits over reconstruction techniques utilizing prosthetic implants: flexibility and time – microsurgical breast reconstruction can be performed at the same time as the mastectomy or any time after and typically requires only one surgery; lower risk of infection since a patient’s own tissue is used for reconstruction; and breast implants can fail, which requires additional surgery to repair. Many patients who experience an implant failure choose to undergo microsurgical reconstruction to restore their breast. Learn more

Partial breast irradiation provides treatment advantages
The current standard of care for radiation as part of breast conservation therapy is whole breast radiation, which uses an external beam to deliver radiation to the entire breast and requires 6-7 weeks of daily treatments. However, women may experience side effects as a result of excessive radiation exposure to healthy tissue, as well as to the skin, and surrounding organs, like the ribs, heart and lungs. In addition, this extended treatment schedule can significantly disrupt a woman’s life, whether it’s interference with family, the cost of missed work or the difficulty of traveling to a medical facility every day for several weeks.

Partial breast irradiation (also known as accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI)) was developed to address these issues, and Douglas Arthur, M.D., at VCU Massey Cancer Center has been a national leader of many of the clinical trials that helped to develop this new form of treatment. APBI allows physicians to precisely deliver treatment to the tumor cavity and surrounding tissue. APBI can be delivered through external beam radiation and through brachytherapy, which delivers radiation from inside the breast through the insertion of a radioactive “seed” to kill breast cancer cells that may remain after lumpectomy surgery.

Partial breast irradiation offers several advantages – it spares healthy tissue from unnecessary radiation and reduces treatment time from five days a week for up to seven weeks to just twice a day for five to 10 days. Also, external beam APBI can be offered for women with recurrence of breast cancer.

Initial research indicates APBI can be as effective as whole breast radiation in terms of survival and controlling local recurrences, and it is poised to become a standard treatment in the future for certain breast cancer patients. But the data on cancer recurrence and survival rates in APBI patients is still maturing. Dr. Arthur is a national Principal Investigator of a large, phase 3 clinical trial that compares the effectiveness of whole breast irradiation (WBI) to partial breast irradiation (PBI) in women with early stage breast cancer who underwent lumpectomies. This is the first study that directly compares the effectiveness of WBI and PBI treatments. All data from this trial has been collected and is currently being analyzed, so stay tuned for a report on trial results. 

Clinical trials are critical to advancing new treatments from the research lab to patients. Massey currently offers approximately 16 clinical trials on breast cancer – view the full listing.



Massey’s doctors and researchers are internationally recognized experts in breast cancer. Massey’s strength in breast cancer treatment and clinical trials is led by Douglas Arthur, M.D., Harry Bear, M.D., Ph.D., Charles Clevenger, M.D., Ph.D., and Charles Geyer, M.D. Arthur is a radiation oncologist, and he led pioneering trials in partial breast irradiation and co-developed AccuBoost and Contura brachytherapy. Bear is a surgical oncologist and recipient of the NSABP Distinguished Investigator Lifetime Achievement Award, and he led pioneering trials in neoadjuvant therapy (which administers chemo before surgery). Clevenger is a pathologist and is known for his research on the hormonal regulatory mechanisms of breast cancer. Geyer is a medical oncologist and former director of medical affairs at the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP), where he was responsible for the development and oversight of the national cooperative group’s clinical studies for breast and colorectal cancers. He was also the founding co-chairman of the NCI Breast Cancer Steering Committee, which coordinates the nation’s process for identifying and promoting the “best science” in breast cancer clinical research by addressing the design and prioritization of phase 3 and large phase 2 trials for breast cancer.

For patient appointments with VCU Massey doctors, please call (877) 4-MASSEY or request an appointment online.



Help honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month by attending one or more of the following events:

Kick for the Cure
October 4, 7:00 p.m. at Sports Backers Stadium

VCU Men's Soccer will play George Mason in a "Pink Out" game for breast cancer awareness. VCU Massey Cancer Center will participate by providing informational materials and free tickets to patients and caregivers.


Screening Soirée and After Party
October 7, 2:00—5:00 p.m., at VCU Breast Imaging at Stony Point

VCU Massey Cancer Center will be hosting 20 women for their first-time mammograms for a special event featuring Geralyn Lucas, former Women and Wellness Speaker, author and 20-year breast cancer survivor. The celebration continues at The Byrd Theatre with a special screening of the movie based on Geralyn Lucas’ first book, Why I Wore Lipstick to My Masectomy. The show starts at 6:00 p.m. and is followed by a meet and greet with Geralyn Lucas as well as a book signing for her latest title, Then Came Life. ‌


Why MRI for Breast Imaging
October 9, 5:30 - 6:30 PM, at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be a useful diagnostic tool particularly when used in combination with mammography and breast ultrasound. Research has found that MRI can locate small breast lesions sometimes missed by mammography. Join Dr. Gilda Cardeñosa, from VCU Breast Imaging, for this free seminar as she talks about the benefits of using MRI in the evaluation of breast disease.


Block out Breast Cancer
October 12, 1:00 p.m., at the Siegel Center

VCU Women's Volleyball team will play Duquesne in a "Pink Out" game for breast cancer awareness. VCU Massey Cancer Center will participate by providing informational materials and free tickets to patients and caregivers.


Radiation Therapy for Cancer: Is It Safe?
October 16, 5:30-6:30 PM, at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

People who receive radiation therapy often worry that radiation poses a risk to themselves or to others around them. Join Dr. Todd Adams, from VCU Massey Cancer Center, for this free seminar to discuss the safety of using radiation for cancer treatments.  


Key to the Cure
October 16, 6:00—9:00 p.m., at Saks Fifth Avenue, Stony Point

Key to the Cure is an event featuring amazing fashion, culinary tastings and a silent auction. All proceeds benefit women's cancer research at VCU Massey Cancer Center.


Kick for the Cure
October 25, 7:00 p.m., at Sports Backers Stadium

VCU Women's Soccer will play George Washington in a "Pink Out" game for breast cancer awareness. VCU Massey Cancer Center will participate by providing informational materials and free tickets to patients and caregivers.



Get information about breast cancer – including definitions, types, causes, risk factors, signs and symptoms, diagnosis and treatments – from Virginia’s cancer resource, VCU Massey Cancer Center. Also learn about breast cancer care and breast cancer clinical trials available at Massey.

Learn general information about breast cancer

Get breast cancer care at Massey

Find a breast cancer clinical trial at Massey

Visit Massey’s patient resource libraries for further breast cancer information 

Written by: Jenny Owen

Posted on: September 19, 2014

Category: Prevention & control

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