Newly Published CT BHI Supported Research Reveals Noteworthy Results in Journal Publication

Aims to Reduce Return Visits of Breast Cancer Patients to the Operating Room.

Breast cancer patients may need to return to the operating room less frequently based on research that began in Connecticut and has been published by a prominent medical journal, following a multi-state, multi-institutional study funded in part by the Connecticut Breast Health Initiative (CT BHI).

CTBHI raises funds to support breast cancer research in Connecticut and has been a key funder in research and education efforts across the state.  The new study, published ahead of print by the Annals of Surgery, was led by Anees Chagpar, a member of Yale Cancer Center and a breast surgeon at the Breast Center at Smilow Cancer Hospital.

“What we are doing could change the way we do surgery – really revolutionize our surgical technique,” explains Chagpar.  “It is ground-breaking work, and there is really no other way to get it funded. And it is absolutely critical to advance state-of-the-art practice in breast cancer management,” said Chagpar, noting CT BHI’s critical role in the grant provided to Chagpar and her research team.
Several years ago, Chagpar received a CT BHI grant.  It came just after an initial clinical trial at Yale demonstrating that resecting slightly more tissue around a cancer (cavity shave margins) reduced the chances of having a positive margin and cut the need to return to the operating room in half. 

The study was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, and gained widespread recognition -- but Chagpar and her associates were looking to pursue a multi-center clinical trial to validate the findings across practice settings.  The grant from CT BHI helped provide the necessary funds. 

That broader, multi-institutional study, was led by the Yale School of Medicine and conducted at nine cancer centers from around the U.S.  Participants intentionally varied from small community general surgeons to large academic institutions, with different geographic and patient populations, and has been a resounding success. Between July 28, 2016 and April 13, 2018, 400 patients were enrolled in the clinical trial.

The ground-breaking study, recently published, has demonstrated that this technique reduces positive margin rates and re-excisions by more than half (60-70%) and is effective regardless of surgeon experience, oncoplastic procedures, and other factors.  
The positive results achieved in the latest study will hopefully lead to modifications in practice that will benefit patients, first and foremost, and also cut costs in the health care system by reducing the number of individuals for whom a return to the operating room after surgery becomes necessary.

Articles appearing in the Annals of Surgery Published Ahead-of-Print section have been peer-reviewed and accepted for publication in this journal and posted online before print publication.  The journal, a well-respected “monthly review of surgical science,” has been published since 1885.

In addition to the Connecticut Breast Health Initiative, the study was funded in part by the David and Katie Burke Fund for Breast Cancer Research, the Troy Cancer Program, Cleveland Clinic Akron General Operations, the Cleveland Clinic Akron General Foundation, the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Watson Clinic Center for Research Inc, and LifeCycle.

The grassroots funding from CT BHI – in this study and others - helps to fill the gap in industry-funded studies and gets past the roadblocks of intense competition for limited research dollars that can prevent “innovative work” from ever happening at all.  Furthermore,  late stage clinical trials, including those led by more senior investigators that are poised to have rapid practice changing results, often have difficulty obtaining funds to proceed if they do not involve large pharmaceutical companies or medical devices. 

The CT BHI mission is to make a significant impact by providing grants to support education and research. CT BHI funds research that has not yet qualified for federal grants, specifically in the areas of breast cancer diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship. One hundred percent of money raised by CT BHI stays in Connecticut, the only program of its kind in the state. 

More than $3.75 million in grants have been awarded during the past 15 years to advance education programs and research initiatives. The 2019 grants will be announced in October; applications for grants were submitted earlier this year.  CT BHI coordinates the annual RACE IN THE PARK, held in New Britain annually on Mother’s Day Weekend, to raise funds. The 2020 RACE will be on Saturday, May 9.

“What’s raised in Connecticut, stays in Connecticut,” explains Joyce Bray, president of the CT BHI Board of Directors. “We are very proud of the tremendous support we continue to receive from sponsors, donors, volunteers, and participants.  Those efforts translate into tangible support for cutting-edge research and programmatic initiatives, right here in Connecticut.  We are thrilled to assist this important work in our state.”

Chagpar indicated that researchers are continuing to follow the participating patients and hope to be able to look at 5-year recurrence rates.  In addition, they’re considering new clinical trials that they hope “could similarly make a difference for breast cancer patients both here and around the world.”  Her message of appreciation to CT BHI, and those who support its mission, is succinct and sincere: “Philanthropy like yours is absolutely critical. Your funding is absolutely making a difference.”

One in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Over 211,000 new breast cancer cases are diagnosed annually in the U.S., including 16,000 men. About 40,000 women die of breast cancer each year, and about 85 percent of the women diagnosed have no family history of breast cancer.  

Media Contact:
Joyce Bray, President, CT BHI Board of Directors
860 827-7103