University of Wisconsin
School of Medicine and Public Health

Clinical Study of 'Extreme' Breast Cancer Survivors Begins

Burkard Laboratory
Dr. Mark Burkard

In an effort to identify factors leading to long-term survival of metastatic breast cancer, Mark Burkard, MD, PhD, associate professor, Hematology, Medical Oncology and Palliative Care, is launching an international study of patients who have survived diagnoses of metastatic breast cancer for decades.

"In most cases people live for maybe a few years," said Dr. Burkard. "When we're finding people who live decades, that's rather unusual and we'd like to know why."

Dr. Burkard wrote an editorial for Oncology Times about the study, which so far has identified 53 individuals with metastatic breast cancer who have survived more than 10 years after initial diagnosis.

Fifteen of the long-term survivors have enrolled in the study. Researchers will perform genome analyses of tumor and blood and examine tissue samples for unusual cancer features.

The investigation is now extending, explains Dr. Burkard. "Many physicians have extreme survivors with metastatic breast cancer in their practice. We invite these physicians to participate by notifying their patients of this project," he said.

Participation is initiated by survivors who choose to visit the study website and select “Participate Now.”

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Photo caption (top): Mark Burkard, MD, PhD, with members of his research team. Seated, front row, left to right: Rachel Yan (undergraduate student), Ryan Denu (MD/PhD graduate student), Madi Sass (undergraduate student), Roshan Norman (graduate student). Standing, back row, left to right: Ning Jin, MD (Research Associate and Clinical Instructor), Alka Choudhary, PhD (Research Specialist), Yang Hu (graduate student), Dr. Burkard, James Johnson (graduate student), David Thompson (Senior Research Specialist), Andrew Lynch (graduate student). Photo credit: Clint Thayer/Department of Medicine