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Fatima Cardoso, MD

Coordinator, European School of Oncology Breast Cancer Program
Secretary General, European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer
Director, Breast Cancer Unit
Champalimaud Cancer Center
Lisbon, Portugal

Current Research

Goal: To advance the understanding of invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC), an understudied subtype of ER-positive breast cancer.

Impact: Dr. Cardoso is studying tumor specimens, DNA, and clinical data from patients with ILC to learn more about the biology and behavior of this understudied disease. Her findings could help identify the best treatment for ILC.

What’s next: She and her colleagues will use a gene-based test called MammaPrint® to determine whether it can effectively identify women with ILC who have a high risk of recurrence. Using patient data from the MINDACT study, they hope to identify ILC-specific markers that may inform the development of new treatments.

Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) is a subtype of breast cancer that develops in milk-producing glands in the breast and has the potential to spread to other parts of the body. While it is the second most common form of breast cancer, ILC is challenging to study. Dr. Cardoso is using a variety of tools and advanced technologies to gain more insight into the disease that could be used to guide future research and develop new therapies for patients.

Full Research Summary

Research area: Improving the understanding and management of invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC).

Impact: Though ILC is the second most common form of breast cancer diagnosed in the US, relatively little is known about how it develops and spreads. Because most ILCs are estrogen receptor (ER)-positive, treatments for ER-positive breast cancer are used in ILC patients. However, ILC tumors do not respond in the same way, and drug resistance is common. Dr. Cardoso’s work is aimed at addressing knowledge gaps in ILC and using her findings to identify better ways to treat the disease and prevent metastasis.

Current investigation: She and her colleagues are conducting a three-part investigation of ILC to:

  • Identifying whether MammaPrint®—a genetic test used to assess a patient’s risk of developing metastases—could accurately identify ILC patients at high risk of metastasis who might benefit from post-surgery chemotherapy.
  • Evaluating the relevance of biological features related to ILC that could inform the development of new therapies for the disease.
  • Using advanced technology to profile individual ILC tumor cells to understand their biological features and how they relate with the tumor microenvironment.

What’s next: Dr. Cardoso is collecting biological material needed for these studies and is starting to enroll patients in their project to address if MammaPrint® can help a subgroup of ILC patients.


Dr. Cardoso is the Director of the Breast Unit of the Champalimaud Cancer Clinical in Lisbon, Portugal. She earned her medical degree at the University of Porto in Portugal and completed fellowships in the Translational Research Unit of the Jules Bordet Institute (IJB) in Brussels, Belgium, and the Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. She then worked for 10 years as Assistant Professor at the Medical Oncology Clinic of the IJB where, besides her clinical work, she was active in the Translational Research Unit and was responsible for phase II-III trials in breast cancer. She is board certified in medical oncology and internal medicine.

Dr. Cardoso’s research interests include biology of breast cancer, prognostic and predictive markers of response to systemic therapy, and new anticancer agents.  She is actively involved in a number of phase I-III breast cancer clinical trials and served as the scientific director of the international research network TRANSBIG for 7 years (EU Framework VI).

Dr. Cardoso is actively involved in numerous professional organizations such as ESMO, ECCO, EORTC, ASCO, and AACR where she serves on several committees, is a Board Member and Chair of the National Representatives Committee of ESMO, the current EORTC Secretary General and chair of the EORTC-Breast Cancer Group. She is also the Breast Cancer Program Coordinator of the European School of Oncology and co-chair of the Advanced Breast Cancer International Consensus Guidelines Conference (ABC). Dr. Cardoso is editor-in-chief of The Breast Journal, associate editor of the European Journal of Cancer, and an editorial board member of several other journals.

She was awarded the prestigious Order of Santiago da Espada for Scientific Merit from the President of Portugal in June 2015.

Dr. Cardoso has authored over 230 publications and has presented her work nationally and internationally.

Grid Reasercher Headshot - Cardoso Fatima

BCRF Investigator Since


Donor Recognition

The Ulta Beauty Award

Area(s) of Focus