Neil Iyengar, MD
New York, New York
Assistant Member and Attending Physician,
Breast Medicine Service
Associate Attending Physician, The Rockefeller University
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
New York, New York
Developing a personalized intervention platform which matches patients with relevant lifestyle modifications to reduce breast cancer risk.
Obesity has been shown to increase breast cancer risk and exacerbate existing disease. Lifestyle interventions, including diet and exercise, for people with breast cancer are achievable, safe, improve quality of life, and may also reduce the risk of disease recurrence. However, there is considerable variability in individual biology and needs, which limits the efficacy of traditional one-size-fits-all approaches. Dr. Iyengar has developed a digitized intervention called the Healthy Living Program that offers individualized lifestyle prescriptions to improve breast cancer outcomes. The intervention includes online risk assessment tools, virtual education sessions, and telemedicine appointments with exercise physiologists, nutritionists, and nurse practitioners trained in lifestyle coaching who help patients transition seamlessly from cancer diagnosis to survivorship.
Dr. Iyengar has enrolled 399 participants with newly diagnosed breast cancer in the Healthy Living Program. He found that early enrollment in the program is feasible, as evidenced by an overall participation rate of 76 percent at the time of diagnosis. He also identified several common modifiable lifestyle risk factors including sedentary lifestyle, dietary patterns that do not meet national guidelines, and sleep disturbances that are present at the time of cancer diagnosis, which allowed for early intervention near the start of cancer treatment.
In the upcoming year, Dr. Iyengar will launch a randomized controlled trial in which breast cancer clinics will be randomized to immediate participation in the program or a wait-list control arm. The primary goal of the trial is to determine the impact of the program on quality of life and patient-reported outcomes. Secondary goals are to assess the efficacy of the program for improving exercise and functional capacity, metabolic parameters, and transition to survivorship. Ultimately, Dr. Iyengar’s research aims to develop risk-stratification algorithms to individualize lifestyle interventions and to ultimately reduce complications and improve quality of life.
Neil Iyengar is a medical oncologist and clinical-translational researcher at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). He is an Assistant Attending Physician in the Breast Medicine Service at MSKCC and also holds a joint research appointment at the Rockefeller University as an Associate Attending. He received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago. He complete residency training in Internal Medicine at the University of Chicago followed by fellowship in medical oncology and hematology at MSKCC. His research has been supported by grant awards from several organizations including Young Investigator Awards from the Conquer Cancer Foundation and from Expedition Inspiration, as well as awards from the NCCN, the American Association for Cancer Research, and others. He has been invited to speak at international meetings and he has published several peer reviewed articles.
Dr. Iyengar steers the multi-institutional Obesity & Cancer Working Group – a highly productive translational research team that includes basic scientists, clinicians, epidemiologists, exercise physiologists, and other experts. Dr. Iyengar specifically studies the role of metabolic health and inflammation in the development and progression of breast and several other cancers. Given the rising rates of obesity worldwide, Dr. Iyengar and his team are working to develop feasible and highly-targeted preventive and treatment strategies aimed at adipose tissue inflammation, which are poised to have a broad public health impact.
The Pink Agenda Award
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