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Melissa Accordino, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Columbia University Medical Center
New York, NY
Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO
Goal: To identify ways to reduce stress and anxiety in patients with breast cancer.
Impact: Many cancer patients are affected by the increasing financial burden of expensive therapies and tests related to their care, and they also face significant emotional distress associated with diagnostic testing to monitor their cancer. Dr. Accordino is studying a blood-based biomarker assay for monitoring disease in patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) that may be less stressful for patients both emotionally and financially.
What’s next: She and her team will compare serum tumor marker disease monitoring— which uses a blood-based biomarker to guide frequency of radiographic imaging—versus a pre-determined frequency of radiographic imaging.
Patients living with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) face many personal and health challenges due to their disease. MBC is incurable, so patients will undergo therapy for the rest of their lives, which causes considerable emotional and financial stress. Treatment involves frequent imaging to assess response to treatment or monitor progress of the disease, which comes at a high price and causes additional anxiety for patients. Dr. Accordino is seeking to determine whether measuring a tumor marker in the blood may be a more affordable, less stressful alternative to serial imaging.
Full Research Summary
Research area: Seeking less expensive, less stressful ways of monitoring disease in patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC).
Impact: Living with MBC can be very difficult both financially and emotionally. Cancer care costs are rising at an unsustainable rate, and many MBC patients are affected by the increasing financial burden of expensive therapies and tests related to their care. In addition, they also face significant emotional distress associated with diagnostic testing to monitor their cancer. In fact, the term “scanxiety” has been coined to express patient-reported anxiety related to radiographic imaging tests to monitor their disease.
To ease these financial and emotional strains, Dr. Accordino is studying a method of guiding the frequency of radiographic imaging in patients that could reduce the need for serial imaging.
Current investigation: In her BCRF/Conquer Cancer Foundation research, Dr. Accordino is comparing serum tumor marker disease (STM) monitoring—which uses a blood-based marker to guide frequency of radiographic imaging—to usual care. Usual care may be radiographic imaging and/or STM at frequencies determined by treating physician. She will evaluate if differences exist in survival, direct healthcare costs, and patient-reported outcomes including anxiety and out-of-pocket costs.
What’s next: With BCRF’s support, Dr. Accordino will continue to evaluate biomarker-directed disease monitoring.
Dr. Accordino has been at Columbia University Medical Center since 2012, when she began her Clinical Hematology/Oncology Fellowship. Since that time, she has worked on a number of research projects related to health outcomes, quality of cancer care, cancer care delivery, and cancer survivorship. She was awarded a Young Investigator Award from the Conquer Cancer Foundation of The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) for a project investigating an electronic educational alert to curb overuse of filgrastim in the setting of febrile neutropenia. She received a Merit Award from the Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO for a project describing patterns of serum tumor marker utilization in patients with advanced solid tumors seen within our ambulatory clinics.
She completed both her clinical fellowship and a post-doctoral Research Fellowship in Cancer Epidemiology and Outcomes on a NCI R25 training grant in 2015. After which, she was appointed as faculty at Columbia University as an Assistant Professor of Medicine within the Division of Hematology and Oncology. Since her faculty appointment she was awarded a Dr. Charles A. Coltman, Jr. Fellowship by the Hope Foundation and a Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO/Breast Cancer Research Foundation Career Development award for a project evaluating differences in costs and outcomes of different disease monitoring strategies in women with metastatic breast cancer. Dr. Accordino has a strong interest in improving the quality and safety of cancer care delivery.
BCRF Investigator Since
The Ann Taylor and Loft Award (a subsidiary of ascena retail group inc.)