The pioneer

The pioneer

Conference bringing breast cancer experts together since 1995

By April Frawley Birdwell

Shahla Masood established the Multidisciplinary Symposium on Breast Disease in 1995.

For 16 years, Shahla Masood, M.D., has been bringing leading experts from all facets of breast cancer care together in one place, long before multidisciplinary care was a key goal for most health care centers.

“When we started this, that word (multidisciplinary) was not even used,” said Masood, a professor and chair of the department of pathology and laboratory medicine at the College of Medicine-Jacksonville and medical director of the Shands Jacksonville Breast Health Center.

This year’s Multidisciplinary Symposium on Breast Disease was no exception, bringing health care providers, physician-scientists and patient advocates under one roof to discuss the latest advances in breast cancer treatment and research.

But this year’s event, held at the Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, Fla., brought one new partner into the mix. This year, UF and the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center jointly sponsored the event.

“The symposium highlights the latest evidence-based research in breast cancer care and brings together researchers so they can hopefully collaborate. It is crucial to work together because breast cancer is not a disease that can be taken care of by one physician or one surgeon,” Masood said.

This year’s symposium featured keynote speaker Armando Giuliano, M.D., a clinical professor of surgery at both the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Southern California and the chief of science and medicine at the John Wayne Cancer Institute. Giuliano introduced sentinel node biopsy for the treatment of breast cancer and is considered a pioneer in breast cancer surgery.

Aside from Giuliano there were 16 other speakers at the event covering every aspect of breast disease, including Umberto Veronesi, the scientific director for the European Institute of Oncology who pioneered breast conservation therapy for breast cancer; and Vivian Pinn, M.D., associate director of research on women’s health for the National Institutes of Health.

A member of the UF Shands Cancer Center, Masood said her primary goal for the symposium has always been to ensure that patients receive the right care for their specific disease. Bringing surgeons, oncologists, pathologists, radiologists and other specialists together helps broaden understanding about the latest advances and treatment options in breast health care.

“This is not about doing more but doing the right thing for the right patients,” Masood said. “This is about quality of care based on the extent and biology of the disease.”

Since its inception in 1995, the symposium has become an international event and has been held in Rome and Paris. Last year, the symposium was held in Cairo, Egypt, in conjunction with the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

“I am delighted I have been able to sustain what we do on a yearly basis,” Masood said. “It has not been easy, but I think we have come a long way.”