Dr. Vikas Sukhatme's keynote address at IMANE: "Tomorrow's Cures, Yesterday's Medicines"
By Dr. Vikas Sukhatme
I am honored and delighted to be here tonight and to share with you some thoughts about a problem that my wife Vidula, who is in the audience, and I are passionate about. Let's think about a woman who discovers a lump in her breast or is told of a suspicious lesion on a routine mammogram. A biopsy shows cancer. This event occurs about 200,000 times annually in the US, or over 500 times a day. 95% of these women show no evidence that the cancer has spread to other organs. For these women, the goal of therapy is to cure. They typically undergo removal of the tumor or a more extensive operation, a mastectomy, depending on a number of factors. Sometimes they get radiation therapy to prevent local/regional recurrence and even chemotherapy to attempt to wipe out micrometastases that might later give rise to systemic disease. Yet relapses do occur - systemically - and of the 40,000 deaths from breast cancer annually in the US, ¾ of the women had first presented with localized disease.