Image Dr Laura Esserman

Making Better Decisions About Breast Cancer

Laura Esserman, M.D., M.B.A, Surgeon; Breast Cancer Oncology Specialist and Director of the UCSF Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center. Recipient, National Cancer Institute’s SPORE Investigator of the Year Award; Member, President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology Working Group on Advancing Innovation in Drug Development and Evaluation

Breast cancer is among America’s most feared diseases, and also one of its most politicized. Decades of public education have encouraged women to get annual mammograms, and diagnoses typically trigger surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. But not everyone agrees that this conventional approach serves women best. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force no longer recommends annual screening for all women in their 40s, a change roundly criticized by patient advocates and rejected by Medicare and private insurers. Some surgeons now advise a "wait and see" strategy for women with specific breast cancer diagnoses. Is it possible that we’re harming ourselves with too many tests and treatments? Dr. Laura Esserman, a breast cancer surgeon, wrestles with these issues on a daily basis. She conducts pioneering research in the areas of screening based on personalized risk assessment and the benefits of "watchful waiting," and even has suggested re-labeling for some forms of breast cancer. Dr. Esserman will discuss the sometimes surprising research that can assist women in making these personal and important decisions.