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Patricia A. Ganz, MD
Distinguished University Professor
Schools of Medicine and Public Health
Director, Cancer Prevention & Control Research
Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center
University of California
Los Angeles, California
Member, BCRF Scientific Advisory Board
Goal: To improve the quality of life of breast cancer patients following treatment.
Impact: Dr. Ganz has been investigating the cognitive function in a group of patients who have undergone treatment and has also surveyed oncologists to understand how they prepare breast cancer patients for post-treatment survivorship. This has enabled her to test interventions that address the needs of cancer survivors.
What’s next: She and her team will look at the role of inflammation related to cognitive changes after endocrine therapy. They will study a natural substance, oxaloacetate, that’s been shown to reduce brain inflammation in laboratory models. In addition, they’ll complete a survey study of oncologists to determine how clinicians can better inform breast cancer patients about the treatment recovery period and help improve the recovery process.
Thanks to more effective therapies, many breast cancer patients are living longer following treatment. However, these treatments can have long-term side effects that impact patients’ quality of life in many ways. Dr. Ganz is studying how these therapies could contribute to cognitive dysfunction (problems with memory, concentration, etc.) so that interventions can be developed to help patients manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Full Research Summary
Research area: To identify breast cancer patients at high risk for long-term consequences of treatment and develop interventions to improve their quality of life.
Impact: Dr. Ganz’s work is focused primarily on addressing cognitive function in breast cancer survivors who have persistent memory and concentration problems arising from treatment. Her studies could reveal ways to help the rising number of survivors manage these issues, which can have a significant impact on their daily functioning.
Current investigation: BCRF funds are supporting a range of research activities led by Dr. Ganz that are primarily focused on the experience of breast cancer patients after treatment ends. Her research aims to identify individuals at higher risk for difficulties, while also evaluating how physicians can do a better job of preparing patients for what to expect during the post-treatment survivorship period.
What she’s accomplished so far: Dr. Ganz and her team have continued to follow a group of women for up to 6 years after the end of breast cancer treatment with questionnaires, blood work, and detailed testing of cognitive function.
What’s next: The team will continue to examine the impact of breast cancer treatments on symptoms and quality of life, completing additional analyses looking at the role of inflammation related to cognitive changes after endocrine therapy. They’ll also complete a survey study of medical oncologists to determine how they can better inform breast cancer patients about what the treatment recovery period is like, and how to help improve the recovery process in their patients. Finally, Dr. Ganz and her colleagues plan to be initiate a protocol to study a promising natural substance, oxaloacetate—a Krebs cycle and gluconeogenesis intermediate—which has been shown to reduce brain inflammation in laboratory models and is being studied in Alzheimer’s disease to see if it can improve cognitive function. They will test it in a phase II randomized trial in breast cancer survivors who suffer from cognitive dysfunction.
Patricia A. Ganz, MD, a medical oncologist, has been a member of the faculty of the UCLA School of Medicine since 1978 and the UCLA School of Public Health since 1992. Since 1993 she has been the Director of Cancer Prevention and Control Research at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. In 1999 she was awarded an American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professorship for "Enhancing Patient Outcomes across the Cancer Control Continuum." Dr. Ganz was elected to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 2007. She served on the National Cancer Institute Board of Scientific Advisors from 2002-2007 and on the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Board of Directors from 2003-2006. She received the American Cancer Society Medal of Honor in 2010. Dr. Ganz is a pioneer in the assessment of quality of life in cancer patients, and has focused much of her clinical and research efforts in the areas of breast cancer and its prevention. At the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, she leads the scientific program focused on Patients and Survivors. Her major areas of research include cancer survivorship and late effects of cancer treatment, cancer in the elderly, and quality of care for cancer patients. Dr. Ganz currently serves as Vice Chair of the Institute of Medicine National Cancer Policy Forum, and Chaired the 2013 IOM consensus report entitled "Delivering High-Quality Cancer Care: Charting a New Course for a System in Crisis."
BCRF Investigator Since
The Estée Lauder Award